The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima was celebrated this past Monday, May 13th, the 96th anniversary of the commencement of Our Lady’s appearances in Portugal to the three young peasant children: Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia.
It was on May 13, 1982, that Pope John Paul II was shot in a failed assassination attempt. His life was saved, he believed, because our Our Lady “guided the bullet’s path,” and saved his life when he was at the threshold of death. The bullet that was extracted from his abdomen now rests in a crown of our Lady in Fatima. Pope Benedict XVI visted the shrine in 2010. He prayed that the years leading up to the “centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”
On Sunday night, Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, the city that is hosting World Youth Day, July 23-28, consecrated this important event to Our Lady of Fatima.
On Monday, at the request of Pope Francis, his pontificate was entrusted to the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Fatima. Cardinal Jose Polycarp, the Patriarch of Lisbon, directed this prayer to Our Lady:
“Grant (Pope Francis) the gift of discernment to know how to identify the paths of renewal for the Church,
grant him the courage to not falter in following the paths suggested by the Holy Spirit,
protect him in the difficult hours of suffering,
so that he may overcome, in charity, the trials that the renewal of the Church will bring him.”
It is remarkable how the recent Popes have placed themselves under the mantle of Our Lady of Fatima. Since her messages to the children have such pertinence for today, here is a reminder of what Our Lady said at Fatima:
Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.
Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.
I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.
Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.
Prayer, penance, reparation, sacrifice. For our salvation and the salvation of the world.
Pope Francis continues to puncture the vast blog-o-sphere with his direct, challenging and fresh way of expressing Church truths. In an address earlier today to the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the Holy Father spoke to the sisters about obedience, poverty, and chastity. His reflections are not just for religious but for all people.
Poverty: “Is also expressed in a soberness and joy of the essential, to put us on guard against the material idols that obscure the true meaning of life. …. Theoretical poverty doesn’t do anything. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.”
Chastity: “Please, [make it] a ‘fertile’ chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers: they must be mothers and not ‘spinsters’! Forgive me if I talk like this but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important! May this joy of spiritual fruitfulness animate your existence. Be mothers, like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church. You cannot understand Mary without her motherhood; you cannot understand the Church without her motherhood, and you are icons of Mary and of the Church.”
Obedience: “It isn’t possible that a consecrated woman or man might ‘feel’ themselves not to be with the Church. A ‘feeling’ with the Church that has generated us in Baptism; a ‘feeling’ with the Church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, a visible sign of that unity….It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the Church, of following Jesus outside of the Church, of loving Jesus without loving the Church.”
This is a call to all Christian people—to physically be with the poor, to actively evangelize and beget spiritual children, to be united in all things with the Rock of Peter.
Pope Francis has chosen to retain his episcopal motto, Miserando atque eligendo, for his Papal coat-of-arms. In English it means: Because He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him. Taken from a homily by the Venerable Bede, the phrase comes from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 9:9-13) who wrote about Jesus’ calling of Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus tells him, “Follow me.”
St. Matthew has a special significance for Pope Francis for it was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that the seventeen-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was “touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola,” as reported by Vatican Radio.
The Venerable Bede (d. 735) wrote the classic treatise: “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” which outlines the history of Christianity in Britain from its beginnings up to his present time. Long after his death, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899. I had the good fortune of stumbling across the Ven. Bede’s grave in northern England while on vacation. It is located in beautiful Durham Cathedral, a Romanesque Church which was once Catholic. On the Cathedral website it says : It is the only cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship, and one of few to preserve the unity and integrity of its original design. The Cathedral was built as a place of worship, specifically to house the shrine of the North’s best-loved saint, Cuthbert, in whose honour pilgrims came to Durham from all over England. It was also the home of a Benedictine monastic community. In fact, the Ven. Bede was a Benedictine monk.
The Venerable Bede said, “(Jesus) saw the tax collector and, because He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ This following meant imitating the pattern of His life – not just walking after Him…This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon….Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation.”
EXPLANATION OF THE SYMBOLS IN THE COAT OF ARMS OF POPE FRANCIS: The blue shield is surmounted by symbols of papal dignity, the same as those taken by his predecessor Benedict XVI (miter placed between crossed keys of gold and silver, bound by a red cord). At the top, stands the emblem of the Pope’s order of origin, the Society of Jesus, a radiant sun and Christ’s monogram “IHS”. The letter H is surmounted by a cross, and underneath are the three nails in black. Below, are the star and the flower of nard. The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, while the flower of spikenard shows St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the Hispanic iconographic tradition, in fact, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.