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On the Word of the Lord and the Message of Our Lady
A Guide on Living Our Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
by Rev. Fr. OMER PRIETO
Dear brothers and sisters,
This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, a beautiful image that Christmas leaves behind. At the Presentation, when “Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” (Lk. 2: 22-40), we are given a picture of what it is to be a holy family. In her message, Our Lady shows how consecration to Her Immaculate Heart helps families live in the holiness of God’s family. We will read “The Families Consecrated to Me” (Message No. 358) from the book, “To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (Luke 2:22-40)
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord: “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted —and you yourself a sword will pierce— so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Points for Reflection
1. Faithfulness to God
Mary and Joseph fulfilled two religious obligations at the Presentation in the Temple: (1) the ritual purification required of women who had given birth and (2) the token offering for the first-born. Mary should have been exempted from purification, because, aside from being immaculate, she was ever-virgin (before, during and after giving birth) through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, on the other hand, should have been exempted from offering in the Temple because He was the “God-born-in-flesh” who spared the first-born sons during the Exodus. Notwithstanding these privileges, they complied with the Law and we see how they loved and honored God unconditionally. Faithfulness to God was the key to the holiness of this family in Nazareth. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus in this environment, nurturing Him to grow in wisdom and in grace (Lk. 2:52).
2. Fruitfulness in the Family
Faithfulness brings fruitfulness. Such is the blessing to those “who fear the Lord and walk in His ways,” our Psalm tells us (Ps. 128: 1-5). In the family, it bears fruit in the wellbeing of its members. Fathers “eat the fruit” of their labor; mothers become “like a fruitful vine” and children “like olive plants.” Blessings are not counted in possessions, but in people who are faithful. In this, parents make a difference. Given “honor” and “authority,” as told in the First Reading (Sir. 3: 2-6, 12-14), they stand in for God. Through them, children get the first glance of God’s wonderful expressions - Father-Provider, Son-Redeemer and Spirit-Sanctifier - in the most loving and intimate manner that only parents can give. Standing with God, they collaborate in the fulfillment of His plan traced out for each of them from the beginning. Holiness in the family sees its fruit in the realization of God’s plan for every member. Such is God’s design.
3. The Church, the Family of God
In the Second Reading (Col. 3:12-21), St. Paul invites us see the wider dimension of being God’s family: the Church. In this faith-family, he exhorts us to live the faithfulness that we first learned at home. Here, fidelity to God is best shown in loving others as fellow members of His household: with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This bears fruit in having among us “the peace of Christ,” into which we are called as “one body.” On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us collaborate in the realization of God’s plan for us, His “chosen ones, holy and beloved.”
II. OUR LADY’S MESSAGE: “THE FAMILIES CONSECRATED TO ME” (MESSAGE 358)
July 23, 1987
San Quirino, Pordenone, Italy
b. I look with love on the families consecrated to me. In these times, I am gathering the families and leading them into the depths of my Immaculate Heart, that they may be able to find refuge and security, comfort and defense. Just as I love to be invoked as Mother and Queen of my priests, so also I love to be invoked as Mother and Queen of the families consecrated to me.
c. I am the Mother and the Queen of families. I watch over their life; I take their problems to heart; I interest myself not only in their spiritual good but also in the material good of all their members. When you consecrate a family to my Immaculate Heart, it is as though you open the door of your house to your heavenly Mother, invite her to come in, and give her the opportunity to exercise her motherly function in an ever stronger way.
d. This is why I desire that all Christian families consecrate themselves to my Immaculate Heart. I ask that they open the doors of all their homes to me so that I may come in and take up my motherly dwelling among you. I then come in as your Mother, I dwell with you, and I take a part in all your life.
e. Above all I see to the care of your spiritual life. I seek to bring the souls of those who compose the family to live always in the grace of God. There where I enter in, sin goes out; there where I stay, grace and divine light are always present; there where I dwell, purity and holiness dwell with me. That is why my first motherly task is that of making the members of the family live in the state of grace and of making them grow in the life of holiness, through the exercise of all the Christian virtues.
f. And because the sacrament of Matrimony confers on you a particular grace to make you grow together, my task is that of cementing deeply the unity of the family, to bring the husband and wife to an ever deeper and more spiritual communion, to perfect their human love, to make it more perfect, to bring it into the Heart of Jesus, so that it may assume the new form of a greater perfection, which expresses itself in a pure and supernatural charity. I strengthen more and more unity within families. I bring them to a greater and reciprocal understanding; I make them feel the new exigencies of a more delicate and profound communion.
g. I lead their members along the road of sanctity and of joy, which must be built up and traveled through together, that they may be able to attain the perfection of love and thus enjoy the precious gift of peace. Thus I form the souls of my children, and through the way of the family, I lead them to the summit of holiness.
h. I want to enter families to make you saints, to bring you to the perfection of love, to stay with you, to make your family unity more fruitful and strong.
i. And then I see also to the material good of the families consecrated to me.
j. The most precious good of a family is its children. Children are sign of particular predilection on the part of Jesus and of me. They must be wanted, welcomed and cultivated like the most precious gems of a family estate. When I enter into a family, I immediately look after them; they become also mine. I take them by the hand; I lead them to walk along the road of the realization of a plan of God, which has from all eternity already been clearly traced out for each one of them. I love them. I never abandon them. They become precious part of my maternal estate.
k. I see to your work in a special way. I never allow you to be lacking in the assistance of divine providence. I take your hands, and I open them upon the plan which the Lord is carrying out each day, by means of your human collaboration.
l. As my humble, faithful and daily motherly action in the little and poor house of Nazareth made possible the fulfillment of the Father's plan, which was realized in the human growth of the Son, called to carry out the work of redemption for your salvation, so too I am calling you to second the plan of the Father, which is being realized through your human collaboration and by means of your daily work.
m. You must do your part, as the Heavenly Father does his. Your action must be espoused to that of divine providence, that the work may produce its fruit in those goods which are useful for the sustaining of your life, for the enrichment of the family itself, in such a way that its members can always enjoy spiritual and material well-being.
n. And then I will help you to carry out the plan of the Will of God. Thus I make the work more fruitful spiritually, because I make of it a source of merit for you and an occasion of salvation for many of my poor lost children. Then, in your person, action is united to love, work to prayer, fatigue to the burning thirst of an ever greater charity. In this way, by your collaboration with the Will of the Father, you form the masterpiece of a providence which, by means ofyou, becomes a day-to-day reality.
o. Do not be afraid; there where I enter in, security enters in with me. Nothing will ever be lacking to you. I make your activity more perfect; I purify your very work.
p. I share also in your preoccupations. I know that the preoccupations of family are many. They are yours, and they become mine. I share with you your sufferings. That is why, in such difficult times, I am present in the families consecrated to me, as a concerned and suffering Mother, who really takes part in all your suffering. Be therefore consoled.
q. These are my times. 'These,' that is to say the days in which you are living, are 'mine,' because they are times marked by my great and strong presence. These times will become even more mine, the more my victory will broaden out and become stronger, surpassing the victory which at present is that of my Adversary. This presence of mine will become very strong and extraordinary, above all in the families consecrated to my Immaculate Heart. It will become apparent to all and will become for you a source of a special consolation.
r. So then go forward in confidence, in hope, in silence, in your daily work, in prayer and in humility. Go forward more and more in purity and with an upright intention; advance with me along the difficult road of peace of heart and of peace in your families.
s. If you all walk along the road which I have traced out for you, if you listen to and put into practice what I have said to you today, your families will be the first buds of my triumph: small, hidden, quiet buds, which are already sprouting in every part of the earth, as though to anticipate the new era and the new times which are even now at your doors.
t. I encourage you all, and I bless you.
Points for Reflection
1. I look with love on the families consecrated to me. Next to priests, Our Lady shows particular predilection to families consecrated to her. “Just as I love to be invoked as Mother and Queen of my priests, so also I love to be invoked as Mother and Queen of the families consecrated to me” (358 b). Her ardent wish is that all Christian families consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart “that I may come in and take up my motherly dwelling among you . . . and take a part in all your life” (358 d).
2. Above all I see to the care of your spiritual life. Foremost in her concern is the spiritual wellbeing of the family. She wants its members to “live in the state of grace,” which they received in baptism, and help them “grow in the life of holiness through the exercise of the Christian virtues” (358 e). Holy Matrimony also confers a particular grace. For the couple, she wants to help them “perfect human love,” making it more fruitful and strong, transforming it into a “pure and supernatural charity” (358 f). For the children, she wants to be with them with perfect love, bringing them the precious gift of “peace” (358 g).
3. And then I see also to the material good. Children are the most precious good of the family. They must be “wanted, welcomed and cultivated like the most precious gems of a family estate.” She looks after them as precious part of her maternal estate, leading them to walk along the road of the realization of the plan of God, which has from all eternity already been clearly traced out for each one of them (358 j). Another material good is daily work, through which God carries out His plan for each member. As she made possible the fulfillment of God’s plan for the human growth of Jesus, She call parents to do the same by means of their humble and faithful performance of their daily work (358 l). By their collaboration with the Will of the God, they form the masterpiece of a providence, which becomes a day-to-day reality (358 n). Preoccupation is the last material good. Our Lady shares with the family also in their sufferings. “They are yours, and they become mine” (358 p). Her presence, which has become strong and extraordinary, is a source of a special consolation (358 q).
On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us commit ourselves to Our Lady’s call to consecrate families to her Immaculate Heart, an act that will bring holiness and peace to all.
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
Note: This reflection is shared with all cenacle and other prayer groups (priests and laity), communities and Marian organizations, associations and movements within and outside of the Philippines, with Our Lady’s words transcribed verbatim for those who do not have copies of the messages. This may also be shared with private individuals for their personal use.Our Lady's messages are taken from the book: "To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons", a compilation of 604 messages in the form of locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi of Italy. Imprimatur: Bp Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998; Abp Francesco Cuccarese, 2007