By Bro. Josefino Rona
INTRODUCING MY EXPERIENCES IN MY MISSION TRIPS WITH OUR LADY PILGRIM VIRGIN OF FATIMA
I would like to relate these experiences as they happened in my life as an individual
and as a lay missionary. I cannot remember the exact dates of some of these events, nor do I narrate them in chronological order, but I will simply relate them as far as I can remember according as they happened during all these trips around the country and around the world.
If this can inspire others, let it be. These experiences are indeed personal, as every person would have their own experiences. I share them to you as they happen and as objectively as I can as far as my sphere of my remembrance of these experiences is concerned. They are intended not to be used for teaching but simply to share as to witness and to inspire others in case they need to know that God is still God and that the Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother. It is important to know that the spiritual world is not isolated away from what we are experiencing in the material world.
These experiences are true. Many situations that happened in my life have taught me that the power to conquer evil comes from the spirit within. It is when we surrender in simple childlike faith to God’s word and confront evil with the conviction of the power of God’s promise that evil is vanquished.
Such is the power that God has given to all His children. Such also is what Our Lady has led us to understand in order that we may be able to experience and see the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.
The key to this spiritual power is the key of God’s Divine Indwelling in those who believe, are baptized and use the power that God has given through the Holy Spirit.
Our Lady’s mission
All through my life the Blessed Mother has always been a mother to me. I had many experiences of this beautiful relationship, but most of all when the Blessed Mother chose me to carry her banner of the Triumph to tell the whole world that everyone is called to participate in this victorious battle against all the evils that Satan may impose on the world.
On April 9, 1984 I was commissioned by the World Apostolate of Fatima (Blue Army) and given an authentic replica of Our Lady of Fatima from Fatima, Portugal to spread the Peace Plan of Our Lady in the Philippines and in the world.
Since the day of Our Lady’s arrival in the Lord’s Leaven Mission House, people would come every single day to venerate her.
From the day of her arrival at the Mission House in Project 4 Quezon City, Philippines, the replica of Our Lady has been invited to communities, schools, offices or parishes, to Moslem areas and even to NPA Communist villages. I never advertised the image, but people would come to invite her. With the permission of their parish priest or spiritual director, I had to go where the Lady would like to go. It was going on like this at the start for three months, every single day.
“Please just expose me.”
After three months of going around every day with the replica of Our Lady of Fatima, I started to have some practical questions in my mind.
One evening I approached Our Lady and said “Mom, what are you trying to do with me? I do not understand. I have always been going around together with your image every day. How about my family? How about food? How about my work? How about the rental of the house?“
Our Lady did not answer my questions. But in my heart, I heard a voice of a beautiful young lady, saying “My son, I understand how you feel. If you don’t want to come along with me, please just expose me to your brothers and sisters. Let me do it alone.“
A flashback…. The first time I heard THE VOICE.
The first time I heard the same soft and tender voice was back in 1957 when I was second year high school in Sacred Heart Seminary, the day the International Pilgrim Virgin, Our Lady of Fatima, visited the Diocese of Palo, Leyte. You can read this part of my story in my blog of 1957.
Back to my story….
It was not with my ear that I heard her. It was deep in me, in my mind, in my heart – a clear sweet voice of a loving lady.
When I heard her voice I did not understand the mixed feelings I had. I felt ashamed before Our Lady; for I knew then deep in my heart that it was Our Lady who called me to this mission. I felt I had not responded generously to Our Lady’s invitation, though I was willing enough. If I said no, it would not be fitting of me before my Queen and Mother.
On the other hand, I felt afraid of the consequences of what I would have to say. If I said yes, I was not sure about the plight of my family; for Our Lady did not seem to answer the practical question of my responsibility to take care of the family.
To say no or to say yes was difficult for me to decide. So I made a compromise in a sort of way. I simply said “All right, Mom, I will bring your replica and take good care of it wherever you want to go. Lead the way and I will follow. I am sorry, Mom. But I would like to ask of you two things. Help me to understand what this is all about and what you want me to do. And, Mom, the moment I commit myself to your mission, my family and me will be in your hands to take care. Please take care of my family.“
First Lesson in the Mission
After I decided to commit myself to work for and with Our Lady, to bring her image wherever she would want to go, my lesson in the mission began. Our Lady was my tutor and guide.
Beginning the following morning, early at dawn, at about 3:00 o’clock at dawn, I was suddenly awakened. The first thought in my mind was Our Lady. I felt she woke me up and called me to prayer. I felt she wanted me to sit right in front of her image. So I did. I pulled a chair and sat right in front of her image by the altar beside the big image of Our Lord Santo Nino.
I did not know what to do, what to pray. I just did it as I felt instructed by her, just to sit in front of her image and that of Our Lord Jesus. After about 10 minutes or so, as I was aware of Our Lady’s presence, I started to feel she was giving me instructions. I felt she spoke to me in my mind and heart. I understood her. I did not hear her with my ears. I just knew it. She said, “Go to my Son, and empty yourself there before His presence.” That was all she said.
I understood that she wanted me to go to the church at dawn to stay before Our Lord exposed in the Blessed Sacrament in the little perpetual adoration chapel. The parish church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Project 4 Quezon City is just a stone’s throw away from the house. At the Adoration Room I sat down literally on the floor in front of Our Lord, and started to exercise emptying myself. I began to exhale longer than I inhaled, and released all of me back to earth, emptying all the burdens of my body and my mind. Slowly I began to feel that my whole body began to slump into the feeling of being nothing. I just uttered a word or two, saying with my heart, “Lord…. I know you are before me, and I know you are in my heart.” And I simply stayed in my heart, linked His presence in the Blessed Sacrament to His presence in my soul.
That was all I did until the break of day when the bell for Mass tolled. I had to take leave and go to Mass and continued that contemplative mood and presence in God.
On the second dawn, again I sat in front of Our Lady’s replica. After a few minutes of silence, I again heard inside me a voice, saying, “What instructions I shall give you and what the Holy Spirit may inspire you, you write them down.”
This dawn contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament went on for a couple of months. After seven months, I noticed that I could easily discern what Our Lady wanted to tell me. I simply listened to her instructions and put them in writing. This was how she taught me to prepare for her movement around the country and around the world.
Sometimes while I would be in a car or a jeep on my way to some mission talk or conference the Holy Spirit would start to inspire some thoughts in me. I had to scribble them down on my palm or on a piece of paper that I always carry for this purpose while the vehicle would be running. On my return home I would immediate-ly transcribe what had been in my heart. It was not clear in my mind at that time why I had to write all these inspirations. I simply felt I had to follow her instructions, that of the Holy Spirit and of my Spiritual Father to write down these inspirations.
I started to notice that the messages I was receiving jibed with the messages given to Fr. Stefano Gobbi and the major visionaries that I met and discussed with along the way, namely: Vassula Ryden, Christina Gallagher, Vicka Ivankovic, Joseph Terrelya, Emma de Guzman, etc.
These messages which I received were confirmed by the “Blue Book” Our Lady Speaks to Her Beloved Priests even before I read them in the book. They were also confirmed by the passages of Scriptures, the Liturgy readings of the day and the events that happened during the days that came.
Sometimes Our Lady and the Holy Spirit would allow me to see the events that would happen in near future.
It was kind of easy for me to follow Our Lady, because her wisdom guided me and made me see how she arranged things and events. I simply followed and humbled myself. That was all I could do.
Our Lady’s Continuing Mission
From this moment on Our Lady pursued her mission with intense momentum throughout the country and throughout the world. I went where Our Lady planned to go. In all these schedules, it was Our Lady who arranged everything. I was only one among the many throughout the world whom Our Lady chose to work for her plan.
The Cenacle of Our Lady
After the burial of Nanay (my earthly mother), I flew back with the replica of Our Lady to the mission house in Quezon City.
One afternoon seven of us mission volunteers were gathered at the Lord’s Leaven Mission House for a little fellowship. While we were sharing our experiences in relation to the arrival of Our Lady at the mission house, suddenly I noticed a strong fragrance of different kinds of fresh flowers all around us. These “invisible” flowers seemed to have just dropped in our midst as we were gathered around a table. I who could not smell because of my stuffy nose from colds was the first to notice the fragrance. The other four confirmed the same intense fragrance of flowers. But two companions among us could not smell anything. I then realized this was no ordinary physical fragrance; for how could I smell since I had a stuffy nose, while the other two who had perfect sense of smell could not smell anything. I understood what it meant. So I said, “Oh, oh, the Blessed Mother is calling us to prayer.”
The Cenacle Prayer
I got her image from the altar, transferred her in the midst of us and we started our prayer. First the Holy Rosary, then we meditated on the blue book of the Marian Movement of Priests which was a thin book at that time. A moment of silent reflection followed. The cenacle ended with a prayer for the Holy Father and a closing prayer. The rest was a free flow fellowship sharing.
From that day on we decided to meet once a week every Monday at 2:30 pm to grace the presence of Our Lady. We started a simple format of prayer without us knowing that what we did was already a cenacle. Thus, began the cenacle in the mission house. Until today the cenacle has not ceased from being prayed by all who are close to the Mission House in Project 4, Quezon City, Miraculous Medal Parish.
The Spiritual Battle Cenacle Format for the Philippines
One evening I composed myself contemplatively and placed myself at the disposal of the Blessed Mother. Then an inspiration was swelling from within me. I felt Our Lady wanted me to make a Cenacle Manual Guide for all those who would get interested in joining the cenacle.
I started clicking on the computer and like a clear stream the thoughts and the prayers just flowed as if someone was dictating in my soul. There was no effort in my part but simply allow myself to be a channel of the prayers and transcribed them on the keyboard.
When it was finished, I saved it but did not print it out. I went to bed. The following day the first thing I did was to check the computer. My mind got perplexed. The first page of my text was moved half way to the right of the monitor. I tried to move back the file to the left. The text was moved to the left indeed but half of the text in the monitor got erased. I tried to scroll down the monitor. Everything was erased. I could not understand what hap-pened. I consulted several IT experts and they gave me no satis-factory answer.
Sis. Nitz Villarica, core member, was always nagging me to put down again in writing the cenacle that I made. “I cannot remember what I wrote, because it did not come from my own mind, but from deep within me. I simply followed the inspira-tion. I cannot make it. If you want let us pray to Our Lady and ask her to inspire me again if she will.” That’s all I said.
We prayed over it. Another month passed. Then the day came. I was given the grace to put the format in writing. I went back to the computer and after the whole manual was finished, I had it printed immediately, not giving a chance to Satan to destroy or erase it again. This was the cenacle format manual that has spread throughout the country prior to the EDSA Revolution and until today.
From here on the cenacle spread throughout Metro Manila and to the other dioceses and around the world. Until today the cenacle has been going on in the Lord’s Leaven Mission House.
Our Lady’s “Modus Operandi”
How I could carry Her where She wanted to go
I never “advertised” the image of Our Lady. The only way I could assure myself that the instructions I received are true are due to the fact that in my silence, patience in persecution and by my obedience to the Church these instructions have been fulfilled and continue to help and inspire many people of good will.
One example of her making me go to a place that would be almost impossible for me to go to. This happened in the village of Merizo in Guam, Marianas Islands. The message to call me to Guam was given by Our Lady to a lady a native in the little village of Merizo in Guam. I did not know the lady. She did not know me. I had never been out of the country. But my name was mentioned to her in the message from Our Lady: “Tell my son, Josefino, to come here to tell you about the Cenacle.” So how could this lady possibly know any Josefino from any part of the world?
It is often in this way that Our Lady calls me through another person whom I do not know to visit a place that I have not gone. Sometimes these people tell me that it was Our Lady who instructed them to see me or call me. They also said that sometimes they see me in their dream or their vision, or they say that Our Lady gave them my address in Project 4 where Our Lady’s Pilgrim image was based.
All other mission trips of Our Lady and me
Our Lady planned it all through the years of the mission where she would go, whom she would call, and what she wants done. Everything was sort of photo-finish.
My only task in these missions, in the Visayas and Mindanao, in the islands of the Pacific, in United States and Australia, in Italy and China, etc., was to bring the replica of Our Lady of Fatima and to give the message of Our Lady to the crowds. In some of my trips my brother priest took charge of the liturgy. In other instances I had to go alone coordinating with a priest of the place where I was told to go. I had to see to it that the Church would give the permission regarding the mission before I and the replica of Our Lady could go.
Our Lady’s Peace Plan
Our Lady’s first lap of the campaign was to have the Peace Plan be organized extensively in the country. These were the Perpetual Dawn Rosary “Aurora,” the Cenacles, the Communions of Reparation overnight vigils, the Family Consecrations, the Alliance of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the First Saturday Devotion to her Immaculate Heart, etc. She wanted all these to be organized on a perpetual basis in order that the prayer and penance crusade would be a permanent structure as a vehicle for the graces of the Lord to flow through her mediation. In this way the Peace Plan of Our Lady would prepare the realization of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart in the year 2000 and unto the Third Millennium.
On the other hand through the writings that Our Lady had me inspired to write in concurrence with the advice of my Spiritual Director, Msgr. Ramirez, she wants to me leave the legacy of the study on the Covenant, the Plan of God, the Divine Indwelling, the Cenacles to be known. Through the Pastoral Integration and Development Program she wants the community of Christians in their parishes to be faithful to their pastors, to pray for them and to love and serve one another in their needs. She wants no one to be alone. She wants to protect each one through her presence in a community.
The devil so very strong is all out to destroy anyone that can be destroyed. But the Triumph of Our Lady has been on the way to its fulfillment through the key of the Divine Indwelling.
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Since that day on, I have been on the move everywhere and any-where as Our Lady bade me go in order to organize the cenacles, the Perpetual Dawn Rosaries, the Communion of Reparations and all other requests of Our Lady.
The End of the First Lap of the Campaign
In the year 1999, I had my mission in Iloilo City. I shyly intimated with the Blessed Mother saying, “Mom, It has been many years already that you have called me to this mission. Your image is heavy and I am getting no younger. May it be possible for me to go on with the mission without carrying your replica? When will this mission end?”
As soon as I said those words, Our Lady through interior locution spoke to me and said, “You don’t have to worry, my son. You may go on with the mission without carrying my image. You have passed the test. You have fulfilled the fifteen years of sacrifice that the Lord has asked of you.“
Fifteen years, like the fifteen decades of the Rosary! I did not know that it had been fifteen years already that I had been travelling around the country and around the world to bring the message of Our Lady to wherever place and whatever group Our Lady wanted me to go.
I was being prepared and made ready to begin a new phase in the mission: the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary through the Divine Indwelling.
MARIAN MOVEMENT OF PRIESTS
Fr. Stefano Gobbi. In 1980, Fr. Stefano Gobbi, the founder of the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP) visited the Philippines to give the message of Our Lady for the role of the Filipinos in Our Lady’s Plan for Peace.
Direct from the airport, Fr. Gobbi stopped for a while at Quiapo, Manila Holy Face Center (which later became the Shrine of the Holy Face). He rested for contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament.
At that same moment, I was conducting a Mariology Recollection at the center to a few Marian devotees. Upon leaving the center, Fr. Tarditi invited me to sit in the combi between him and Fr. Gobbi. Fr. Tarditi was then the priest-in-charge of the MMP in the Philippines. Fr. Tarditi leaned towards me and spoke softly, “Bro. Joe, help spread the cenacles of Our Lady.”
Little did I know then to what extent I would be involved in the movement. I did not know what the cenacle was all about. Fr. Tarditi gave me a little white pamphlet “Our Lady Speaks to Her Beloved Priests,” which eventually through the years from 1973 to 1997 became a thick book called today “The Blue Book.”
When I read the message of Our Lady to the Filipinos (Blue Book 280-281) the message caught my attention so much that I felt a call in my soul to spread her messages and the prophecies she gave for the country and for the world leading towards the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart, a mission that she has led me to do until today.
Priests-in-Charge of the Marian Movement of Priests
Fr. Pras, OMI, who after Fr. Tarditi was the Priest-in-Charge of the Marian Movement of Priests in the Philippines commissioned me to help spread the Cenacles of Our Lady.
Fr. Lorenzo Ma. Guerrero, SJ, the next priest-in-charge of the Marian Movement Fr. Guerrero called me to his office one day upon his arrival from his pilgrimage to Medugorje. He was exube-rant in sharing with me his experiences in Medugorje and the importance of the cenacles. I was simply listening to him. Then at the end of his two hour sharing, he said, “Bro. Joe, what you are doing is from our Lady. Continue to spread the cenacle."
Fr. Antonio Olaguer, SJ, was the last Priest-in-charge of the Marian Movement that I worked with. He told me to work with him closely knowing that I was in contact with many communities throughout the country through the Marian and Charismatic programs.
Fr. Aureo Nepomuceno, SJ, one day at the LTC Office (Land Transportation Commission) after a conference, turned to me and said, “Bro. Joe, I know you are giving talks about the Blessed Mother. With the problem of many Catholics being confused and converted to Protestant fundamentalism, can you defend the Blessed Mother?”
Defend the Blessed Mother? I mused. She doesn’t need any defense, I thought! We human beings need defense! Well, somehow, I gave it some thought but not really seriously. It was when the Spiritual Father of Lord’s Leaven Mission, Msgr. Josefino Ramirez, asked me to write something about the Blessed Mother that I started to be serious about the idea. I then started medita-ting what to write. The result was the first book I wrote on Mariology and the Marian Prophecies.
Msgr. Josefino Ramirez, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Manila, has been the Spiritual Father of the Lord’s Leaven Mission Society and Lord’s Leaven Mission Foundation, Inc. Through him, His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin commissioned me to spread the Parish Pastoral Integration and Development Program throughout the Archdiocese of MetroManila. And in my trips all over the world, Msgr. Ramirez was always there to give me support.
His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin in a private conference with me and Msgr. Ramirez in his private office said these words, “Bro. Rona, in history God sends always someone to help the Church in her crisis. In this our time you are one of those whom God has sent to help heal the many heartaches happening in society and in the Church today.” I did not know exactly what he meant. I felt I am just a simple guy just doing all my best listening to Our Lady, the Holy Spirit and my Spiritual Director to help Our Lord and Our Lady’s mission in the world today.
The Ongoing Mission
From this time on, I was always on the go to visit to different countries around the world, according to Our Lady’s providential design. I had been hopping from island to island in the Pacific in those days. And once a year I would come to the United States or to Australia or to Europe.
How all trips and pilgrimages happened – all these I attribute to the Blessed Mother.
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