ATE CAR INTRODUCED her (Purification of Mary) talk with the simultaneous Feasts of the Candles and Presentation of Jesus. She was buoyed up by Sis Ana Marie’s brief on our Lady of Candelaria, or light, the same grace by which Mary handled Jesus Christ, the Child, with gentleness and love, thus, carried Him faithfully. Fr. Fed supported this further by the faith of St. Bernadette of Subirous, whose attitude, amidst persecution and the tendency to be rich and famous, turned her back thereon to return to Lourdes for her mission to bring Mary into the world.
January 31, Fr. Fed said, was the 347th birthday of St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort. Consecration is the renewal of our baptismal vows. Montfort used ordinary language to be understood by all. Albeit his mystic nature, he wrote with authenticity based on personal experience. His “True Devotion to Mary” had Christ for its core. Its original title was “Preparation for the Reign of Jesus Christ. He did not use valueless stuff so that when you stumble on a difficult word, it meant time to pause and ponder, until you get to its root.
He dwelt on # 227 of the book’s Chapter 7 which comprises of the seven external practices: 1. preparation/consecration; 2. little crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 3. slavery chain; 4. incarnation; (the 4-period core: knowledge of world; self; Jesus Christ and Mary) 5. Hail Mary; 6. Magnificat; 7. contempt of the world. It is interesting to note that number 4 is, indeed, in the middle of number 7. Was the mystic into numerology as well?
The titular feast on March 25 reminds us to renew. The 17 chapters of “Love of Eternal Wisdom,” on the other hand, has in its heart, Chapter 9, Incarnation which, again, is the center of the number 16. This is the overwhelming part that Ate Relly must have meant, but this is being overwhelmed myself so will get there later.
We all agreed when Pads said that in TTJ’s 33 sessions, the need for emptying the self at each session was necessary for the Holy Spirit to fill us. And His message to sink in.
The Magnificat is in the Little Crown and the Gospel of Luke when, in the Temple, Simeon blessed the Holy Family and said to Mary that her Son is a sign that a sword will pierce her own soul. It was also present in the slavery of Jesus Christ in Mary’s womb (speaking of overwhelming again, He created Mary to be slave to her); His slavery in Philippians 2:11 (the Son of Man disclaiming equality with God; and slavery in love, like Montfort was slave to Mary, who was instrumental in His incarnation and resurrection (and ours) from slavery to exaltation.
Pads said that the challenging part of living out the consecration might be gleaned from the consecrated ones themselves. Bro Buddy, a recent consecrant, shared his insight: “First Saturdays get me on my feet early because it’s embarrassing to the facilitator to be late. My concern was how to change my former behavior, which was grouchy, pity my suffering wife. I simply renewed every day; she didn’t have to tell me, I just did.”
I shared that, like the words of a song in PREX (of which I’m an addict), Binabago Mo ako araw-araw, God changes us every day but only if we submit to slavery in Him.
Fr. Fed’s next question was both anticipated (by those who have been there) and avoided (by those who will be going through it for the first time): What did you discover after the consecration?
My answer was the usual ”Like Montfort, I realized I’m a worm”. Beside me, Sis Toti said she felt like an ant. Sis Emmie’s take was ”You like people you used to dislike”. Someone from Gagalangin, Tondo, expressed her initial apprehension to undergo the looong sessions but, she could not contain it, after hearing Fr. Fed, was confident that she would not mind how long the journey took.
Acknowledging where she was from, Pads said that Montfort’s mission was conducted in the peripheries of France, where the poor were, for them to know Jesus who love them. Montfort’s wisdom, he went on, is deeply rooted in the scriptures and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, so that if we don’t believe, we cannot simply trash them because there is always a way – Mary.
I now go to Ate Relly’s reflection. She said she was overwhelmed and thankful for the treasure that Fr. Fed unearthed before us. While she went through the sessions more than once already, she still could not believe that hearing the introduction to them – again – would hearten her so much there is no way she will not go through the process over and over again. Sis Ana Marie carried it over by saying that, “Montfort shared his spirit with us, with new perspectives, made very clear, like looking at the pearl of great price, which changes our heart, not only the system. Sis Eva said she became “aware of sinfulness and yearned to be holy”. Sis Viji submits to slavery and realizes that there is no way for all of us to have fulfilled all those 33 commitments so there is a need to be refreshed because kung hindi babalikan, paano malalaman kung ano ang kinahinatnan?” I sidled up to her later that my feeling was mutual.
It was an opportunity for Pads to remind us (he sounded like he included himself) that we all have 33 days before March 25 (February 21 exactly) to refresh, be reminded and keep renewing before the actual renewal. Like a sacred cycle, I said to myself.
Another Legionary from Gagalangin offered that she was more convinced – and excited – to join the journey and, that early, felt that “sana di matapos agad ang 33, ang galing ng paliwanag”.
Concluding, Fr. Fed intoned: It was King David who prayed “Create a clean heart in me, O God, for the King of kings to reign in my heart”. In the first reading, however, in spite of his prayer, he preferred Bathsheba to God and had Uriah killed. Nathan told him the poor-man-rich-man analogy which made the king rethink his sins. Jesus invites us to go to the other side of self, like the scary big waves that scared the apostles so much to wake Him up to still them. Unlike David, who was nalulungkot lang, nakalimutan na ang Diyos, sarili lang ang sinunod, let us be like Mary, let us stay at the foot of the cross, quiet, still, waiting for God’s will. We are, after all, like her, partakers of redemption.
And he completed his aborted announcement last week that, aside from still being National Director of AMQAH, he is now the formator of the Collegians. Is that a “Yay?” Amen.