MI Prayer Village
A prayer and study small group format of the Militia of the Immaculata
“Common to all groups will be the Drive to Save Every Possible Soul.”
—St. Maximilian Kolbe, ofm conv.
To locate MI Prayer Villages in the USA and Canada, click here.
Start a Village of the Immaculata
“When they entered the city, they went to the upper room where they were staying. . . . All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus. . . .When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled . . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” —Acts 1:13, 14; 2:1, 4
Certainly it is no accident. On Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the apostles and disciples were praying together as a group, in spiritual solidarity born of the Holy Spirit. And with them was the Virgin Mary.
Is this not the first Catholic “prayer group”? The Holy Spirit still calls us to gather together as a family for prayer and mutual support. This is certainly the case since the closing of the Second Vatican Council; witness the explosion of independent and parish-based prayer groups throughout the Church, many of them explicitly Marian.
Militia of the Immaculata (MI) members who come together through a “Village of the Immaculata” prayer gathering can be confident of being a part of a sure movement of the Holy Spirit. They meet under the banner and patronage of a canonized saint, one of the greatest of the twentieth century. And of the twenty-first, too: Pope John Paul II recently proclaimed Maximilian “a sign and a pro-phet of the new era, the civilization of love.”
Village prayer group members can also count on Our Lady being present among them as Mother of the Church and powerfully interceding for them as Mediatrix of All Graces—just as she was for the first Christians at Pentecost.
Group Prayer: Essential to the Movement
St. Maximilian Kolbe knew of the importance of MIs coming together in prayer. He recognized two general categories of MI activity, individual action and “the united and corporate action of a group.”
We can work and worship “more effectively,” explained Maximilian, by joining forces rather than relying solely on individual initiative, since “there will always be those works that individuals acting alone will be unable to accomplish.” MIs in prayer gatherings “pool their efforts and resources in prayer. . . . There is opportunity for exchanging ideas, for discussing and deciding the things to do . . . or for preparing oneself on apologetics.”
As for calling today’s MI prayer meetings “villages,” we again take our cue from our patron. “It seems to me that all the Cities of the Immaculata will constitute one whole, intimately united, one world army, continually fighting [evil] without ceasing until the end of the world.” The cities of which Maximilian speaks are consecrated centers of conversion and evangelization: Niepokalanow in Poland, Marytown in the U.S., and other canonically-approved MI centers worldwide.
MI prayer meetings are smaller versions of these cities, thus “villages” of the Immaculata. They have the same supernatural purpose as the larger units. Said Maximilian, “Common to all groups will be the drive to reach the goal, the salvation of every possible soul and the highest possible degree of holiness for everyone.”
Of course, Maximilian never ceased to remind us that all MI evangelical activity is directly empowered by the Immaculate Virgin Mary. We are simply her willing instruments through total consecration.
Keeping to the Matter at Hand
The following is a Village of the Immaculata prayer format recommended by the MI National Center. Experience has proven that small prayer meetings are most effective when held to around 1.5 hours or less. A flexible yet firm format, as the one shown, helps to ensure this. For instance, it keeps group members, however well meaning, from wandering into off-topic discussion. It also prevents the gradual accretion of time-consuming, sometimes inorganic, prayers and devotions. The “village moderator,” of course, is ultimately responsible for keeping the meeting flowing smoothly.
Notice there is an optional time of apostolic discussion. Here the group may touch base on group initiatives, if any. But we suggest that socializing be reserved for before or after the meeting; prayer is the thing in between.
Village of the Immaculata
MI Prayer Meeting Format
• Invocation of the Holy Spirit
• MI Prayer of Total Consecration
• Recitation of five decades of the Holy Rosary
• Reading of one or more passages from Kolbe’s writings
• Individual reflection on the readings
• Intercessory Prayer (or other prayer forms)
• MI apostolic discussion (optional)
• Miraculous Medal Prayer
If time or interest permits, consider the following: Opening/closing hymns • Silent prayer • Vocal/charismatic/healing prayer.
1. Prayer to the Holy Spirit & Consecration prayer
The MI prayer village ought to begin with a favorite invocation of the Holy Spirit, since, as St. Maximilian taught, “the Holy Spirit does not act except through the Immaculata, his Spouse. Hence, she is the Mediatrix of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit.”
MI members renew their consecrations by reciting the consecration prayer, composed by Maximilian. We already have a relationship with Mary, Mother of the Church, from the moment of our Christian baptism. Making or renewing the act of total consecration simply makes our relationship with her more explicit and effective. We allow our wills to be led by her, be merged into hers. “The more perfectly we place ourselves in the Immaculata’s hands the more perfectly will we be an instrument in her hands,” wrote St. Maximilian.
The moderator should encourage those who are not members to formally join the movement. Keep on hand plenty of “Join the MI” enrollment brochures, consecration prayer cards and other materials from the National Center.
Since the prayer village is our “upper room,” where we gather to pray with Mary, the recitation of the Rosary, the Immaculata’s prayer par excellence, is most appropriate and beneficial.
3. Readings & Reflection
Be expectant! Know that Our Lady will be authentically present and active while you meditate upon St. Maximilian’s writings. As our patron wrote, “When you are preparing to read about the Immaculata, do not forget you are entering into contact with a living being. She will be revealing herself to you through the sentences you read and will suggest thoughts, convictions, affections of which even the author probably did not think.”
To better know the mind of Maximilian, while encountering Our Lady more deeply, we recommend taking your readings from Will to Love or The Kolbe Reader (Marytown Press, 800-743-1177). They contain brief yet profound spiritual and Marian reflections from the saint Pope John Paul II has proclaimed “the apostle of a new Marian era,” and Paul VI called “clairvoyant” in Maximilian’s anticipation of the rich Marian theology of the Second Vatican Council.
All should have an opportunity to reflect upon the readings. The moderator should ensure that comments address the topic at hand and are relatively brief. In this way, members on a tight schedule because of family or other obligations are not inconvenienced.
4. Intercessory prayer & Apostolic discussion
Use this time to unite your prayers with Mary, our Advocate, along with Maximilian and the glorified saints, to intercede to the Father for all those who need help. This can be done silently or vocally. Know that the Trinity bestows all favors through the Immaculate One. You are in good hands! Other forms of prayer are welcome too, according to the inclinations of the group.
This may be a good time to report on any evangelical projects the group has decided to pursue. This discussion could also be postponed until after the meeting.
Group projects might include pro-life activity, volunteering at a nursing home, evangelizing together on the internet, promoting Eucharistic adoration in your parish, conducting a “Together with Mary” as well as other MI study programs, running an MI information booth at a local Marian conference or county fair.
5. Miraculous Medal Prayer
St. Maximilian composed this prayer of intercession himself, embellishing the prayer that surrounded the vision of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at Rue du Bac, Paris, in 1830. The prayer reminds us that the sprirituality of the MI is not self-centered. It reaches out to bring the entire world, especially the Church’s adversaries, under the mantle of the Virgin through total consecration; to “embrace the whole world, each and every soul,” said Maximilian.
As a result, we should leave a Village of the Immaculata meeting inspired to do as Christ calls all Christians to do, of every age: “Go out and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).
6. Social Time
MI prayer meetings should be fun. Come early, stay afterwards, enjoy fellowship, perhaps coffee and cake. It is better if all contribute to the cost of the meeting. The moderator should have a basket available for free-will offerings. Consider making a group donation to support the cost of national MI initiatives. These initiatives include establishing Village of the Immaculata prayer meetings throughout the country.
7. Would you like to be a village moderator?
If you would like to moderate a Village of the Immaculata prayer meeting, mail in the attached form. The National Center will send you a “Village Start-up Kit,” containing all the materials you will need, along with a suggestion sheet for running an effective meeting.
Responsibilities are minimal. You will simply be asked to register the meeting, encourage MI membership and keep us abreast of your activities. But you can be sure the benefits, both natural and supernatural, will be substantial. Additionally, the National Center will do all it can to support you with regular communication and other help.
To become a Village of the Immaculata moderator, contact the MI National Center at Marytown.