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A LADY OF INCOMPARABLE BEAUTY APPEARED AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTAR

A LADY OF INCOMPARABLE BEAUTY APPEARED AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTAR

OUR LADY’S FIRST MESSAGE TO THE MODERN WORLD – PARIS, 1830

“Come to the chapel, the Holy Virgin is waiting for you.” Zoe Catherine Laboure, a postulant in the Daughters of Charity, awoke to see a child about four or five years old standing at the side of her bed. He was enveloped in a golden light. She later said that she believed him to be her guardian angel.

This happened in the mother house of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The date was July 18,1830, the eve of the feast of St Vincent de Paul, founder of the community.

“BE AT EASE”

Catherine sat up, astonished and a little troubled. “How can I get up and running cross the dormitory without waking my companions?” she asked.

“Be at ease,” the child replied. “It is half past eleven and everyone is asleep. I will come with you.”

Catherine followed the child to the chapel, which, to her surprise, was lit up, “as if for Midnight Mass.” He led her to the altar rail, and she knelt down. “Here is the Holy Virgin,” he announced.

Almost at once, a sound like the rustling of silk caused her to look up. A Lady of incomparable beauty appeared at the foot of the altar. She stepped forward and sat on the chair normally reserved for the Director of the seminary. She was dressed in an ivory robe and blue mantle. A white veil fell over her shoulders.

“THE SWEETEST JOY OF MY LIFE”

Catherine rushed forward and threw herself to her knees. She rested her clasped hands on the knees of the Blessed Virgin. It was “the sweetest joy of my life,” she said later, “a delight beyond expression.”

“My child,” the Blessed Mother said, “God wishes you to undertake a mission. For it, you will have much to suffer, but you will overcome that by recalling that you do so for the glory of God…”

Much of what our Lady said was for Catherine’s ears alone and has never been revealed. The words which we do know began Mary’s message to the modern world, a message which was climaxed at Fatima and which has not yet been concluded.

“THE TIMES ARE EVIL” 

“The times are evil,” our Lady said. “Terrible things are about to happen in France. The throne will be destroyed, and the whole world will be convulsed by terrible calamities.

“But come to the foot of the altars. Here great graces will be poured out upon all who ask them with confidence and fervour. They will be bestowed upon the great and upon the small.”

Our Lady made some declarations about the community to which Catherine belonged, adding: “I love it very much.

“But grave troubles are coming. There will be great danger. Do not fear. God and Saint Vincent will protect the community. I myself shall be with you…

“DO NOT FEAR” 

“At one moment, when the danger is acute, everyone will believe all to be lost. You will recall my visit and the protection of God…

“There will be victims in other communities. There will be victims among the clergy of Paris. The Archbishop will die… The cross will be trampled upon… Blood will run in the streets… The world will be plunged into sadness…”

Catherine understood that some of the events described would take place soon. The others would take place in about forty years, or about 1870.

“I SHALL GRANT YOU MANY GRACES”

Our Lady’s last words to Catherine on this visit were: “My eyes are ever upon you. I shall grant you many graces. Special graces will be given to all who ask them, but people must pray.

When our Lady had disappeared, “like a cloud that had evaporated,” the child led Catherine back to her dormitory. The clock was striking two as she got back into bed.

THE PRODUCT OF AN OVERWROUGHT IMAGINATION? 

Catherine was not allowed to tell anyone of her experience, except her confessor, Father Aladel. The priest was inclined to dismiss the story as the product of an overwrought imagination.

A FEW DAYS LATER… 

Father Aladel was surprised a few days later when a Revolution broke out in Paris, but Catherine was not surprised. Our Lady had foretold it. Many were killed. Bands of men and boys broke into churches. Crucifixes were profaned. Convents were pillaged. Priests were ill-treated, and the Archbishop was forced to go into hiding. The mother house in the Rue du Bac shook with gunfire and was surrounded by an angry mob. It did seem that all was lost, but true to our Lady’s promise, the buildings remained unharmed.

“MANY PEOPLE DO NOT RECEIVE GRACES BECAUSE THEY DO NOT ASK FOR THEM”

Our Lady’s second visit to Catherine took place on November 27, 1830, four months after the first one. This time Mary appeared over the high altar in the convent chapel. Her head was covered with a soft white veil. She was standing on a globe. In her hands she held a smaller globe with a tiny cross at the top. She held it out as if offering it to God. Rays of light streamed down to the larger globe from some of the gems in her fingers.

Lowering her eyes, our Lady said to Catherine: “This ball you see is the world. I am praying for it and for everyone in the world. The rays are graces which I give to those who ask for them. But there are no rays from some of these stones, for many people do not receive graces because they do not ask for them.”

AN OVAL FRAME APPEARED AROUND OUR LADY

The vision changed. An oval frame appeared around our Lady. The small globe disappeared, and our Lady dropped her hands to her sides. She became brighter and lovelier as she did so. Around the oval frame appeared in gold the words: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

O MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN, PRAY FOR US WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO THEE

A voice said to Catherine: “Have a medal made according to this picture. All those who wear it when it is blessed will receive many graces, especially if they wear it suspended from their necks.”

Suddenly the entire picture seemed to turn. On the reverse Catherine saw the letter M surmounted by a cross with a crossbar beneath it. Below were two hearts. That of our Lord was encircled by a crown of thorns while that of our Lady was pierced by a sword. Enclosing the entire picture were twelve stars within a golden frame.

In December, the Blessed Virgin appeared for the third time and repeated her request for the medal.

Catherine again transmitted the request to her spiritual adviser, Father Aladel, but the priest did not know what to do. He did not wish to be in the position of disobeying an order from heaven, but he said to Catherine: “I do not have the authority to have such a medal struck. Besides, it is to say ‘O Mary conceived without sin,’ and the Immaculate Conception is not a dogma of the Church.” (In 1830, this doctrine had not yet been promulgated. That was to come twenty-four years later.)

HE CONSULTED THE ARCHBISHOP

Father Aladel investigated Catherine’s story very carefully, and he prayed for divine guidance. Then he consulted the Archbishop of Paris. The medals were struck and distributed in Paris two years after our Lady had made her request. By this time, Catherine had received the habit of the Daughters of Charity, and had taken the name Sister Catherine.

SHE CARRIED HER SECRET TO THE GRAVE

Sister Catherine was so humble that she did not tell anyone that the Blessed Mother had appeared to her. Not more than two or three persons knew to whom our Lady had given her request for the medal. Even the other Sisters in her convent did not know. Sister Catherine carried her secret to the grave.

During the War of the Commune in 1871, many of the events fortold by our Lady in the first apparition came true. Blood ran in the streets. Many priests were killed. Msgr. Duboy, Archbishop of Paris, was brutally murdered. The insurrectionists were strongly influenced by the teachings of Karl Marx…

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“SACRIFICE YOURSELVES FOR SINNERS”

“SACRIFICE YOURSELVES FOR SINNERS”

“Do you wish to know a secret?” Pope Pius IX asked, in referring to La Salette. “This is it: Unless you do penance, you shall all perish.”

At Lourdes, Bernardette repeated our Lady’s plea for “Penitence! Penitence!”

At Fatima, our Lady asked the children: “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may choose to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and ask for the conversion of sinners?” When Lucia answered that they did, our Lady said: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will assist you always and bear you up.”

THE GRACE OF GOD WILL ASSIST YOU ALWAYS

“Sacrifice yourself for sinners,” our Lady said on another occasion at Fatima, “and say many times, especially when you make sacrifices: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'”

The following words of Our Lady of Fatima put a great responsibility upon all of us: “Pray, pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”

In 1925 the Child Jesus and our Lady both appeared to Lucia in the convent and asked for acts of reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

At Beauraing, Belgium, in 1932, our Lady said, “Sacrifice yourself for me.”

“THEY HAVE NO ONE TO PRAY FOR THEM” 

How are we to make sacrifices? The three children of Fatima asked this very question of the angel who appeared to them the year before they were favoured by the apparitions of our Lady. The angel had just asked the children to “offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”

“How are we to make sacrifices?” asked nine-year-old Lucia. – “You can make sacrifices of all things,” the angel replied. “Offer them in reparation for the sins that offend God, and beg of Him the conversion of sinners. In this way, try to draw down peace on your country…  Above all, accept and bear humbly the sufferings which the Lord will send you.'”

HOW ARE WE TO MAKE SACRIFICES? 

“You can make sacrifices of all things…” The words were meant as much for us as for the children of Fatima. The three children heeded the request of the angel and made sacrifices of all things. They offered all their everyday actions to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In the spring of 1942 Lucia wrote: “This is the penance which the good Lord now asks: the sacrifice that every person has to impose upon himself is to lead a life of justice in the observance of His Law. He requires that the way be made known to souls. For many, thinking that the word penance means great austerities and not feeling in themselves the strength or generosity for these, lose heart and rest in a life of lukewarmness and sin.

“Last Thursday, at midnight, while I was in the chapel with my superior’s permission, Our Lord said to me: “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfilment of his duties in life and the observance of My Law. This is the penance I now seek and require.'”

This is the very most that is asked of us: the sacrifice required of every person is the fulfilment of his duties in life and the observance of God’s law. This is heartening when we tend to become discouraged, and when we think we are not doing enough.

THE MORNING OFFERING

The most effective way to make sacrifices of all things is to make the Morning Offering: “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer thee all my prayers, works and sufferings of this day for the intentions of thy Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates and in particular for the intention of the Holy Father.” If we are in the state of grace, the Morning Offering turns all our actions for the day into meritorious acts.

The Act of Total Consecration has this same effect. To a person who has consecrated himself completely to Jesus through Mary, the Morning Offering is simply a daily renewal of that consecration.

THE TOTAL CONSECRATION

“Above all, accept and bear humbly the sufferings which the Lord will send you.” When the civil administrator put the children of Fatima in jail with the hardened criminals, they offered their suffering in reparation for the sins of the world. When Jacinta was undergoing great agony on her deathbed, she murmured through her pain: “It is for love of You, my Jesus. Now You can convert many sinners, for I suffer much.”

All of us have our sufferings, small ones and big ones; the extra tasks we have to perform, the slights we receive, the plans that go wrong, the severity of the weather, the loss of a loved one, a severe illness, a financial reverse. Like Jacinta, we can offer these in reparation for sins and for the conversion of sinners.

“ABOVE ALL, ACCEPT AND BEAR HUMBLY THE SUFFERINGS WHICH THE LORD WILL SEND YOU”

Offering their everyday actions and their sufferings to Jesus through Mary was not enough for Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. They were constantly thinking up voluntary sacrifices. When they went out to tend the sheep, they gave their lunches to children poorer than themselves, and they ate unripe olives. Under their clothes they wore shaggy ropes which chafed their skin.

All of us can make voluntary sacrifices in addition to the minimum penance which our Lord says he requires, although our sacrifices are not likely to take such extreme forms.

“IT IS ONLY BY SACRIFICE AND SUFFERING – OFFERED AS PENANCE – THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, TO CONVERT HIM”

St John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Arms, lived a life of heroic self-denial, penance and reparation. Because of these virtues he was able to convert an entire parish, the members of which had given up their practice of religion.

One day a neighbouring pastor said to Father Vianney: “I have a hardened old sinner in my parish. Years ago he fell away from the faith. I’ve tried everything to convert him. I’ve pleaded with him: I have prayed for him: I’ve asked others to pray for him. But it’s no use. He seems determined to die in his sins. What can I do?”

“You say, Father,” replied the Saint, “that you have pleaded with him and have prayed for him. But have you tried fasting for him? It is only by sacrifice and suffering – offered as penance – that you will be able, by the grace of God, to convert him.”

PRAYER AND FASTING 

Similarly, with the grace of God, we can accomplish stupendous things by our sacrifices. The stakes are high. We can win peace on earth. We can win a Catholic Russia. We can win peace of mind and peace of soul. We can achieve the unity of the Mystical Body all over the world. We can bring about a rebirth of the moral values so long deadened by the forces of materialism.

What sacrifices shall we make? We can make them in all categories: everyday actions, sufferings and voluntary acts of self-denial. Here are a few suggestions. We can:

  • Get up an hour earlier every morning and go to Mass.
  • Do that unpleasant task we have been shirking.
  • Be kind to someone who has slighted us.
  • Be pleasant at home and at work, even when we have severe provocation to be otherwise.
  • Bear our aches and pains in quiet patience.
  • Go out of our way to help others.
  • Live up to the duties of our religion, even when doing so is very inconvenient.
  • Give up something we want very much in order to give the money to the missions.

These are only a few ways in which we can answer Mary’s call for sacrifices. With good will we should be able to think of many more ways of carrying out the wishes of the Mother of God. If made in the proper spirit, such sacrifices will help restore the world to Christ, and will help put the world on the road to true peace.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 

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“BE VERY PATIENT – BECAUSE PATIENCE LEADS TO HEAVEN”

“Oh, if men only knew what eternity is, how they would make all possible efforts to amend their lives!… mortification and sacrifice give great pleasure to Our Divine Lord! Oh! Fly luxury! Fly riches! Love holy poverty! Be very charitable even towards the wicked! Never speak evil of anyone and avoid those who do. Be very patient because patience leads to heaven.

“Pray much for sinners! Pray much for priests, for religious, for governments! Priests should occupy themselves with the affairs of the Church! They must be pure, very pure. The disobedience of priests and of religious to their superiors and to the Holy Father offends Our Lord very much! If governments left the Church in peace and gave liberty to our holy religion, they would be blessed by God.

“The sins of the world are too great! The sins which lead most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh!… Oh! Men must do penance! If they amend their lives Our Lord will still pardon the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come!…”
– Blessed Jacinta of Fatima, Lisbon, Jan/Feb 1920

 
 

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MARY’S PRAYERS AND LOVE HAVE SNATCHED MANY SOULS FROM THE CLUTCHES OF HELL

“If people do what I tell you many souls will be saved…”

MANY SOULS GO TO HELL BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO ONE TO PRAY FOR THEM

“Our Lady said to the children at Fatima, ‘if people do what I tell you many souls will be saved and there will be peace.’ Our Lady asked us at Fatima to pray and make sacrifice for sinners. She said that many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray for them and make sacrifices for them. Lucy describes the Vision of Hell as follows:

THE VISION OF HELL

‘We saw as it were a vast sea of fire, in which were plunged, all blackened and burnt, demons and souls in human form like transparent embers. Raised into the air by the flames, they fell back in all directions, like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or poise, amidst loud cries and horrible groans of pain and despair which caused us to shudder and tremble with fear. The demons were distinguished by the horrible and repellent forms of terrible unknown animals, like embers of fire, black yet transparent.

This scene lasted an instant, and we must thank Our Heavenly Mother who had prepared us beforehand by promising to take us to Heaven with Her; otherwise I believe that we should have died of fear and terror.’ Our Lady said: ‘You have seen Hell where the soul of poor sinners go, to save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.’

Saint Alphonsus (Doctor of the Church) teaches that Devotion to Mary is necessary for Catholics in order to save their souls. He also teaches that Mary has snatched many souls from the clutches of Hell and saved them for Heaven because these persons have repeated during their lifetime some little act of devotion to Our Lady – for example, praying three Hail Mary’s to Our Lady every day, or fasting on Saturdays in Her honour. (See Saint Alphonsus’s book ‘Glories of Mary’, Part 1, Section 1, Chapter 8.) Thus we can see why God wants to even better establish devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the world because thereby many more souls would be saved. God furthermore wants mankind to realise that God grants graces to us through Mary. As Pope Leo XIII taught, all graces come from God, through the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, through the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to us.”
– This article entitled “Vision of Hell” was published in the Fatima Center’s booklet “Our Lady’s Urgent Appeal”, 1982. More information on the Fatima Center can be found on http://www.fatima.org (external link).

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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FOR YOUR DIARY: THIS YEAR’S REMAINING “A DAY WITH MARY” – DATES

÷ A DAY WITH MARY ÷

A DAY OF INSTRUCTION, DEVOTION & INTERCESSION, BASED ON THE MESSAGE GIVEN AT FATIMA IN 1917.

• REMAINING VENUES FOR 2013:

Sat 12 Oct St Saviour, Lewisham
Sat 19 Oct St Dominic, Haverstock Hill
Sat 26 Oct Westminster Cathedral
Sat 2 Nov St Mary’s, Chelsea
Sat 9 Nov St Anselm, Tooting Bec
Sat 16 Nov St John the Evangelist, Islington
Sat 23 Nov O.L. of Lourdes & St Michael, Uxbridge
Sat 30 Nov St Vincent de Paul, Osterley
Sat 7 Dec Our Lady of Lourdes, Acton
Sat 14 Dec St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater

AGENDA

• 10.00am Entry Procession of Our Lady. Angelus. Crowning. The Five Joyful Mysteries. The Five Luminous Mysteries. Sung Litany of Loreto.

• 11.30am Mass in honour of Our Lady. Celebrant & Preacher: Fr George Roth F.I.

• 12.45pm Lunch break (please bring packed lunch.)

• 1.45pm Exposition and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Sermon on Our Lady by Fr Jude Ifeorah SMMM
Silent Adoration. Meditation on the Passion of Our Lord

• 3.15pm Tea break

• 4.00pm Sermon on Our Lady by Fr Henry Tiku-Wenna. The Five Glorious Mysteries. Act of Consecration. Benediction. Enrolments in the Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal.

• During the day: Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

(Finish: 5.15pm approx.)
Full DWM information: http://www.adaywithmary.org (external link)

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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EXAMPLES OF VICTORIES OF THE HOLY ROSARY: LEPANTO, HIROSHIMA, AUSTRIA

“Our Lady pleaded and insisted that people say the daily Rosary. Reparation holds back the hand of God from striking the world in just punishment for its many crimes. The Rosary is like a sword or weapon the Mother of God can use to cut down heresy and the forces of evil. It is most powerful, and many times has saved the world from bad situations like the one facing us today.

LEPANTO 1571

A few centuries ago, the Turks were overrunning all Europe and seemed on the verge of wiping out Christianity. When all seemed lost, Pope Saint Pius V organised a Rosary Crusade. He asked Catholics everywhere to pray the Rosary to ask Our Lady by her prayers to deliver them from imminent disaster. When the day of the great battle arrived, the Christian soldiers literally went into battle with swords in one hand and Rosaries in the other. Thus on October 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, one of the greatest military upsets in all history, took place at Lepanto. The little Christian fleet, very greatly outnumbered, defeated the mighty Turkish Armada and Christianity was saved – all through the power of praying the Rosary.

HIROSHIMA 1945

The Rectory of the Assumption of Our Lady Church in Hiroshima was left standing on August 6, 1945, after the atomic bomb killed 200,000 people in the city. The church next door to the rectory was completely demolished by the atomic blast. There was nothing left standing on the street outside. There was, in fact, no street outside. All that, too, was completely destroyed. Only the rectory stood amidst the surrounding rubble and the four Catholic priests inside survived the atomic blast. It was because they were praying the Rosary and living the Message of Our Lady of Fatima that they were saved from certain death. Indeed, Our Lady and Her Rosary are more powerful than even the atomic bomb.

AUSTRIA 1955

There are many examples of the power of the Rosary. To give another example in our own time – the Russian armies withdrew out of Austria in 1955, without one person being killed and without one shot being fired… This victory for the Catholic people of Austria is due to Our Lady and Her Rosary, because at that time ten per cent of the people of Austria were praying the Rosary every day. The Rosary is more powerful than guns or bombs, as we can see from this example of Austria… God has the power to soften any human heart, as Scripture says, ‘The heart of the king is in the Hand of God.’ God, through the intercession of Our Lady, and through the prayer of the Holy Rosary, softened the hearts of the Russian rulers, and thus they gave Austria back its freedom. Sister Lucy of Fatima has said that there is no problem, either material or moral, national or international, that cannot be solved effectively by the Rosary and our sacrifices.”
– This article was published in the booklet “Our Lady’s Urgent Appeal” in 1982 by “The Fatima Center”; more information can be found on their website http://www.fatima.org (external link).

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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WHAT DOES THE FORTHCOMING CONSECRATION OF THE WORLD TO OUR LADY BY POPE FRANCIS MEAN FOR CHRISTIANS AND THE WORLD?

WHY POPE FRANCIS IS TURNING TO OUR LADY

“The announcement a fortnight ago that Pope Francis is to consecrate the world to the Virgin of Fatima has received relatively little media attention. The secular media may be forgiven for rapidly passing over a gesture which must seem to them a routine matter of Catholic piety, of little interest in the search for sensation and conflict which today set the agenda for what is considered newsworthy…it is clear that Francis considers the intercession of the Mother of God as a central stay of his papacy. On the evening of his election, he announced to the crowds that his first official act would be to betake himself to the Madonna and ask for her help. The following morning he honoured his pledge at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the oldest churches in Christendom dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Within weeks he requested the Primate of Portugal, Lisbon’s Cardinal Jose Policarpo, to publicly entrust his ministry as Pope to the Virgin of Fatima.

POPE FRANCIS WILL CONSECRATE THE ENTIRE WORLD

Significantly, the cardinal did so on May 13 of this year, the 96th anniversary of the first vision seen by the children at the Cova da Iria. The coming consecration will take place on October 13, and that too is significant, since it will mark the anniversary of the final public vision on October 13 1917. The original statue of the Virgin of Fatima, known from countless copies to be found in churches and homes throughout the world, will be brought to St Peter’s in Rome for the occasion. And this time it will be the entire world, and not just his own papacy, that the Pope will consecrate in this way.

OUR POPE RESPECTS THE PIETY OF THE ‘SIMPLE FAITHFUL’

Those of us who fancy ourselves as theologians tend to look down upon private revelations like Fatima. Conversely, there are those who seem to attach more importance to them than the gospels themselves – like many who get bogged down in controversy over whether the ‘Third Secret’ was really revealed in the year 2000, or whether the consecration of the world to Our Lady of Fatima performed by blessed John Paul II in 1984 satisfied her request that the pope should especially consecrate Russia to her. The truly Catholic view avoids these extremes. Public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, and it alone is binding on all the faithful. When the Church recognises a private revelation it is because she recognises that it is fully harmonious with her faith, to which it adds nothing. Private revelations, even recognised ones, are binding on nobody (except the individuals who receive them). Not even on popes, by the way. But our Pope likes to show us that he respects the piety of the ‘simple faithful’. This is because he knows that many of the poor and unlettered understand more truly and more deeply than the learned and the ‘wise’. (And these are the people Our Lady seems to prefer: St Bernadette once said: ‘If there had been one poorer and more wretched than I, then the Lady would have chosen her.’) This does not mean we should neglect to inform ourselves about our faith, but that learning and knowledge are useless without humble submission to the God who reveals himself to us in a carpenter from the poor and unglamorous town of Nazareth.

WE MUST PRAY THAT SHE MAY LEAD US TO UNITY

Fatima once aroused controversy and sensationalism because of its relevance to the Cold War and the threat of a nuclear Armageddon. In today’s world, the bipolar opposition of the Cold War and the ideological clash between capitalism and Communism might almost inspire nostalgia for their simplicity. The multi-faceted complexities and conflicts which threaten our peace and well-being, however, do not render the message any less urgent. They remind us of our constant need for God’s protection, and our Holy Father leads us by example in turning to the Mother of God for hope and succour. Militant Islam today inspires us with more fear than atheistic Communism, and this fear is all too tied to actuality in the case of the Christians of Egypt and Syria. Mary must surely have a role to play here, too. After all, Muslims, although they do not recognise her as Mother of God, do venerate her as Virgin mother of a prophet of God. The Christians in Muslim majority countries, historically divided among Catholicism, Byzantine Orthodoxy and non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy (among whom we number most of the Copts in Egypt), are nonetheless united in their love and veneration of the Theotokos, or ‘God-bearer’. We must pray that she may lead us to unity.

‘YOU ALONE, O MARY, HAVE CRUSHED ALL THE HERESIES THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD’

That unity is more necessary than ever in a world where the Church of Christ is threatened on many sides. Although in the West we do not face the immediate threat to life and property which faces our brethren elsewhere, there is a feeling of foreboding as militant secularism, ever more intolerant, closes in on us. We need the guidance of the Mother of Good Counsel, the endurance of the Queen of Martyrs and the strength of Our Lady of Victories. Within the Church, too, our divisions and the lack of coherence between the lives we lead and the faith we profess threaten in many places the cohesion and ultimately the very existence of our believing communities. Benedict XVI recounted how he had come to see the truth in the old prayer ‘Cunctas haereses in universo mundo tu sola contremisti, O Maria’ (‘You alone, O Mary, have crushed all the heresies throughout the whole world’).

CHRIST, TRULY GOD AND TRULY MAN

We call her Mother of God and Mother of Christ, and in so doing we are saved from two temptations. The first is to reduce her Son to a mere man, an inspiring moral visionary. This is the real face of Pelagianism the present Pope has warned us against: the belief that, if given a set of instructions, we can save ourselves by our own efforts. We need more than a teacher; we need God himself to come and save us. We know by faith that he has done this by becoming man through Mary. On the other hand, there is the temptation to forget that Christ is truly man. In fact, it is only through the humanity he took from Mary that the Son of God makes his life our own.

FAITH NEEDS CHOICES, FAITH NEEDS SACRIFICES

The other temptation the Pope has mentioned, that of a new Gnosticism, takes hold when we forget that the salvation brought by Christ is not merely some out-of-the-body experience but needs to be made flesh in our world through our concrete choices and, yes, it often requires real sacrifices on our part. Mary knew the poverty of Bethlehem, the precariousness of refugee status in Egypt and the desolation of Golgotha before she came to the glory of her Assumption.

THE MISSION OF ALL BAPTISED CATHOLICS

…[H]e is not even consecrating simply the Universal Church to Mary, but the whole world. This reminds us that, ultimately, it is the mission of the Church to encompass the whole of the human race. We respect other religions. We engage in dialogue with all people of goodwill, but we do not renounce the duty of proclaiming to all the Gospel of salvation in Christ. And we entrust this mission, eternally entrusted by Our Lord to his Church, to his Virgin Mother. In going out to the peripheries, in leaving behind our institutional comfort zones whenever necessary, we do not abandon all comfort, for she is at our side.

So, when the Bishop of Rome, the head of the College of Bishops and ultimate guardian of the deposit of faith, consecrates the world to the Virgin of Fatima on October 13, his gesture concerns all of us, if we wish to take part fully in the mission of all the baptised. I can think of no better way of associating ourselves with the Holy Father than by following the three shepherd children with a childlike confidence, expressed in fervent prayer, especially the rosary, and joyful sacrifice. Our Holy Father believes it makes a difference. So should we.”
– The above are excerpts of an article entitled “Why Pope Francis is turning to Our Lady” by Fr Mark Drew, [Headings in capital letters added afterwards] published in “The Catholic Herald” issue August 30 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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