The Marian Movement of Priests
Fr. Stefano Gobbi
We naturally ask ourselves this question: But what significance has this Movement in the Church today? Among the very many associations which are at work at every level, what is its function
in the life of the Church? To this question it seems to me that I should give this simple response: the M.M.P. is a help which our heavenly Mother is offering to the Church today, that it may become aware of her motherly presence, be consoled in the midst of great sufferings, and feel itself ever surrounded by the love and prayer of so many of its children.
By means of the M.M.P., Our Lady wishes to offer to the Church a strong help in overcoming the painful crisis of the purification through which it is living at this time. Because of this crisis, it can be seen that religious orders and congregations, once flourishing, are now going through times of particular difficulty. Through her work, Our Lady wishes to assist everyone to overcome with her the present moments of suffering and, therefore, invites first the priests and then the religious and faithful to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart and to be most faithful to the Pope and to the Church. The reason why the Movement does not have any juridical existence is that the aforementioned assistance can more easily be accepted by everyone. In this there lies its weakness because, not having any juridical form, it finds itself unable to seek any official approbation which could help it on its way. But this is also its strength because, as it does not impose any associative bond, it makes it easy for priests and religious to belong to it.
If we compare the Church to a great tree, I would say that the role of the M.M.P. is not to add another branch to the many which it already has, but that of infusing it with a secret strength which, coming from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, spreads through all its branches. And thus each one is assisted to develop according to its proper function and particular form, imparting to all a greater strength and beauty. If then one wishes to know which is the most striking quality of the Marian Movement of Priests, it seems to me that I would have to say its essential poverty. The Movement is so poor that it does not even have an official existence. And, not having any existence, quite naturally it cannot in any way be categorized. Sometimes we smilingly say among ourselves: we are now more than sixty thousand priests and tens of millions of faithful, who belong to the Marian Movement of Priests, but nowhere can one find the proof that we exist. The Movement is so poor that it cannot even own its own material resources, nor is it able to accept legacies or goods. It lives only from offerings sent to it by Divine Providence to meet the heavy expenses of printing and distributing the books. But even in this matter, each national center manages its affairs autonomously in regard to the life of the Movement, according to the means which Divine Providence places at its disposal.
The Movement is poor in terms of human support, even in those things which could bring it comfort and joy in the midst of the inevitable difficulties which it encounters, such as particular recommendations on the part of superiors, praise and encouragement from ecclesiastical authority, and various other such marks of approval. The sure support which Our Lady wishes to give us is her Immaculate Heart, and the only letter of recommendation is that which is to be found written in the life of each priest who has been consecrated to her, that he may thus be assisted in attaining holiness.
This radical poverty of the Marian Movement of Priests must be loved, blessed and lived by each one of us, because it is the poverty of Mary herself which is reflected in her work. It is the poverty of the Queen of Heaven who hides herself beneath the clothing of a simple housewife. It is the
poverty of our Mother, immaculate and completely full of grace, which is revealed in her so simple and normal way of living in the perfect service of her spouse, Joseph, and her divine Son, Jesus.
The poverty of Mary should always be reflected in this work of hers, because the Marian Movement of Priests must also exist, spread and work only at the service of—and as a perfect service of love for—the Church. This is why the Movement must not even have an existence of its own: it can only live within the life of the Church and at the service of the Church. In this way, the Church can be truly helped to carry its great cross in these bloody moments of its purification. And it is supported in its journey toward its greatest splendor, by the light which the Immaculate Heart
gives to it by means of so many of her beloved children.
“Through you who have responded, my light spreads ever more in the Church. And thus the Church takes on vigor, confidence and a new impetus in the evangelization and salvation of all nations.” (November 14, 1980)
- Don Stefano Gobbi