Thursday, May 13, 2010




VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2010 (VIS REPORT) - Early this morning the Pope left the apostolic nunciature in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and travelled by helicopter to Fatima, a town of 8,000 inhabitants associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia in 1917. Jacinta and Francisco were beatified by John Paul II in Fatima in 2000.
The shrine was built on the site of the apparitions (an area known as "Cova de Iria") with an esplanade surrounded by various buildings, At the north end stands the basilica and to its left the "Capelinha", the Chapel of the Apparitions, which was built in 1919.
Before the image of the Virgin Mary in the Chapel of the Apparitions, Benedict read a prayer in which he recalled how Venerable John Paul II had visited Our Lady of Fatima on three occasions and given thanks for "the 'unseen hand' that rescued him from death in the assassination attempt on 13 May 1981".
" I thank you, beloved Mother, for the prayers and sacrifices that the shepherd children
of Fatima offered for the Pope, led by the sentiments that you inspired in them in the apparitions. I also thank all those who, every day, pray for the Successor of Peter and for his intentions, that the Pope may be strong in faith, bold in hope and zealous in love".
The Holy Father also presented a golden rose "brought from Rome as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home".
Benedict XVI then went to the Church of the Blessed Trinity, three hundred metres away, where he presided at Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons.
In his homily he expressed his own and the Church's recognition and gratitude "to all of you who have given your life to Christ. ... Thank you for your witness, often silent and certainly not easy; thank you for your fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church".
"The greatest concern of every Christian, especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one's own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord. ... This evidently supposes true intimacy with Christ in prayer, since it is the powerful and intense experience of the Lord's love that brings priests and consecrated persons to respond to His love in way that is exclusive and spousal".
"There exists a deep solidarity among all the members of the Body of Christ", explained the Holy Father. "It is not possible to love Christ without loving His brothers and sisters. It was for their salvation that John Mary Vianney decided to become a priest", he said.
"It is important to assist one another with prayer, helpful advice and discernment! Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ".
"The priesthood of Christ is eternal, but the life of priests is limited. Christ has willed that others continue in time the priestly ministry that He instituted. Keep alive in your hearts, and in others around you, the desire to raise up - in co-operation with the grace of the Holy Spirit - new priestly vocations among the faithful".
Turning then to address seminarians, the Pope told them: "Carefully examine your intentions and your motivations. Devote yourselves with a steadfast heart and a generous spirit to your training. The Eucharist, which is the centre of Christian life and the school of humility and service, should be your first love".
Before the end of the ceremony, the Pope entrusted priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "We are mindful that, without Jesus, we can do nothing good", he said, "and that only through Him, with Him and in Him, will we be instruments of salvation for the world.
"Bride of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadowed you, making you the Mother of the Saviour, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of Him Who makes all things new".
"Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One".
"Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, our 'here I am'".
After Vespers the Holy Father dined at the nearby "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo", a centre for spiritual exercises which is part of the shrine complex.

VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 9.15 p.m. today, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the Chapel of the Apparitions at Fatima where he prayed the Rosary by torchlight with pilgrims gathered there. Before the prayer Benedict XVI blessed the candles and addressed some words to the participants.
"All of you, standing together with lighted candles in your hands", he said, "seem like a sea of light around this simple chapel, lovingly built to the honour of the Mother of God and our Mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light.
"However", he added, "neither Mary nor we have a light of our own: we receive it from Jesus. His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us".
"God ordered Moses: 'Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground'. And that is what he did: he would put his shoes back on to free his people from slavery in Egypt and to guide them to the promised land. ... Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God".
The Holy Father went on: "In our time, in which the faith in many places seems like a light in danger of being snuffed out for ever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God. And not to any god, but to the God who had spoken on Sinai; the God Whose face we recognise in the love borne to the very end in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. ... Do not be afraid to talk of God and to manifest without fear the signs of faith, letting the light of Christ shine in the presence of the people of today".
"In this place it is amazing to think how three children entrusted themselves to the interior force which had enflamed them in the apparitions of the angel and of our heavenly Mother. In this place where we were repeatedly requested to recite the Rosary, let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary's Rosary. ... Meditating upon the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries as we pray our Ave Maria, let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus, from the Incarnation, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection; let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. Grace invades our hearts, provoking a wish for an incisive and evangelical change of life".
"The devotion and affection of all of you, the faithful who have come here from all around the world, is clear to me", Benedict XVI concluded. "I bring with me the worries and hopes of our times, the sufferings of our wounded humanity and the problems of the world, and I place them at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima: Virgin Mother of God and our own dear Mother, intercede for us before your Son, that the family of nations, both those called Christians and those who do not yet know the Saviour, may live in peace and harmony, in order that they come together as the one people of God".
Having prayed the Rosary, the Holy Father returned to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" as Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. presided at a Mass for the vigil of the Marian Solemnity of 13 May.

VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Fatima and the tenth anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta, the Pope celebrated the Eucharist on the esplanade of the shrine of Fatima in the presence of 500,000 people.
In his homily the Holy Father made it clear that he had "come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary's presence and maternal protection; ... to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings; ... to entrust to Mary's maternal protection priests, consecrated men and women, missionaries and all those who [who do] good works".
Referring then to "mystical confidences of the shepherd children", the Holy Father noted how "one might look at them with a touch of envy for what they were able to see, or with the disappointed resignation of someone who was not so fortunate, yet still demands to see".
But "the Scriptures invite us to believe", he explained. "God can come to us, and show Himself to the eyes of our heart. Moreover, that Light deep within the shepherd children, which comes from the future of God, is the same Light which was manifested in the fullness of time and came for us all: the Son of God made man. ... Henceforth our hope has a real foundation: ... Jesus of Nazareth".
"Faith in God opens before us the horizon of a sure hope, one which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base one's life without fear; it demands a faith-filled surrender into the hands of the Love which sustains the world", he said.
The shepherd children "offered their whole lives to God and shared them fully with others for love of God", said the Holy Father, highlighting how "we would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic mission is complete. ... Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end. In Sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and He does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: 'Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which He will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?'.
"At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart", he added.
Benedict concluded his homily by expressing the hope that "the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions" may "hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Blessed Trinity".
At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father addressed some words to the sick people present, and to those following the event by radio and television.
"In all human suffering", he said, "we are joined by One Who experiences and carries that suffering with us". In other words, it is possible to "overcome the feeling of the uselessness of suffering which consumes a person from within and makes him feel a burden to those around him when, in reality, suffering which is lived with Jesus assists in the salvation of your brethren".
"The divine Master, instead of explaining the reasons for suffering, preferred to call everyone to follow Him, saying: 'Take up your cross and follow me'. Come with me. With your suffering, take part in the work of salvation which is realised through my suffering, by means of my cross. As you gradually embrace your own cross, uniting yourself spiritually to my cross, the salvific meaning of suffering will be revealed to you. In suffering, you will discover an interior peace and even spiritual joy".
The Holy Father invited the sick to welcome the call of Jesus "and entrust to Him every setback and pain that you face, so that they become - according to His design; a means of redemption for the whole world. You will be redeemers with the Redeemer, just as you are sons in the Son. At the cross stands the Mother of Jesus, our Mother".Before leaving Benedict XVI addressed greetings to the multitude pilgrims in various languages.
He then went on to visit the tombs of the shepherd children inside the basilica of the shrine of Fatima, before going back to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" where he had lunch with Portuguese bishops and his entourage.

VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Hanoi, Vietnam, presented by Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon.
- Appointed Fr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop O.P., professor of ethics and Church social doctrine at the Dominican study centre and various other religious institutes, and professor at the Ho Chi Minh Ville State University, as bishop of Vinh (area 30,594, population 6,090,000, Catholics 486,234, priests 166, religious 610), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Lang Anh, Vietnam in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1972. He succeeds Bishop Paul-Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen M.S.C., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

All Africa report: At least 10 people have been killed and more than 25 others wounded in a fierce clashes between Somali government forces and rebel fighters in the Somali capital Mogadishu, paramedics and witnesses said.

Government forces attacked bases of fighters loyal to Hizbul Islam in Mogadishu's northern districts, leading to heavy gun fire excahnge.
"We collected at least 25 wounded people from Hodan, Hawlwadag, Wardhigley and Yaqshid and admitted in various Mogadishu hospitals," said Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance service.
Hizbul Islam spokesman Sheikh Arus blamed government soldiers on the latest clashes, saying they have raided a base belonging to the fighters.
"Government forces attacked us and we repelled. We are still in control of the contested areas," he said.
War-ravaged Mogadishu has been the scene of deadly battles between government forces and local fighters with civilians bearing the brunt since 2007.
Meanwhile, former Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Omar Habeb, better known as Mohamed Dhere, has escaped unhurt from a landmine explosion that was targeted on his car.
Mohammed Dhere accused the explosion on Al-Shabaab militants.
"One of my security guards was killed and three others injured in the explosion which was targeted on my car. My men arrested the culprit behind the attack and he will be brought before justice," he said.
The ex-mayor said he is ready to liberate the country from Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rule if elected to any position in the government.
Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 ouster of President Mohamed Siad Barre led to a bloody power struggle that has defied numerous attempts to restore stability.


CNA report: Catholics in Goa are grieving the death of a 37-year-old priest who died saving three young parishioners from drowning in rough seas. The local Catholic Church praised him as an example for all priests. Fr. Thomas Fernandes Remedios, associate pastor of the Church of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the village of Nuvem, was at the parish’s beach picnic. Fides news agency reports that about 60 people, mostly youth, attended.
In the afternoon two girls and a boy between 17 and 19 years old ventured into the rough sea despite being warned not to do so. Finding themselves in difficulty, they cried for help.
Fr. Fernandes dove in the water to help and saved two immediately. He saved the third as well, but then suffered a fatal heart attack.
Deacon Savio Moniz, who was at the picnic, told the Goa Herald that the priest collapsed after rescuing the youth.
“We tried to administer first aid to Fr. Thomas as he was almost breathless after he collapsed,” Deacon Moniz reported.
The priest was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.
"He is a Shepherd who gave his life for his flock," the Church in Goa has said, according to Fides. It added "in this Year for Priests, he is an example and a testimony for all the priests."

The Local report: With appeals for peace and greater social justice, hundreds of thousands of Christians joined together in Munich on Thursday for Germany's biggest interfaith meeting since the recent Catholic child abuse scandal came to light.

Leaders of country’s two biggest Christian denominations acknowledged they had to work to win back the trust of the community at the 2nd Ecumenical Church Day, which aims to strengthen ties between the churches and put aside theological differences in favour of common humanitarian aspirations.
Pope Benedict sent a written welcome message in which he denounced child abuse by priests as a “weeds” around the Catholic Church.
Munich’s Catholic Archbishop, Reinhard Marx, and Bavaria’s Protestant Bishop, Johannes Friedrich, joined together for a sermon on the virtues of strengthening unity and co-operation between the churches – known as ecumenism.
An estimated 300,000 people took part in street parties Wednesday night. The Church Day, which officially kicked of yesterday and runs until Sunday, includes more than 3,000 interfaith events.
Former Protestant leader Margot Käßmann, who resigned amid a drink-driving scandal in February, earned a warm welcome with wild applause at her first major public appearance since her resignation.
“Thanks, that’s doing me good,” she said on Thursday when she was greeted with applause by 6,000 supporters.
Käßmann used her address to reiterate her criticism of Germany involvement in the war in Afghanistan – a public stance that earned her criticism while she was leader of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD). She said priority should be given to civilian reconstruction.
Käßmann was forced to step down as leader of the Protestant umbrella church after she ran a red light while driving drunk. Her quick resignation and admission of fault was widely perceived as a dignified exit, however, which won her respect from Protestants and Catholics alike. “She’s an example for the young people. She has broken a law and she took responsibility for it. That’s important, because everybody makes mistakes,” said audience member Angelika Kistner.
Later, at a discussion on women and power in the clergy, Käßmann was asked by an audience member about her own loss of power.
“Loss of power also means freedom,” she said.
At her bible reading, Käßmann said that people are not perfect, yet they are loved anyway by their God and their fellow men.
“No person is without fault or blame,” she said.


LifeSiteNews report: OTTAWA, May 12, 2010 ( – Students and adults began arriving by the thousands Wednesday evening in preparation for the main events of the annual March for Life in Canada's capital city. A prayer service and special Catholic Mass celebrated by Canada's new Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, was jammed to the full capacity of St. Theresa's Church. Three other bishops concelebrated along with several priests. The religious events were followed by a candlelight vigil at the Ottawa Human Rights monument.


Cath News report: Archbishop John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington in New Zealand (pictured, centre) was elected yesterday as President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania. Bishop Rochus Tatamai MSC, of Bereina, Papua New Guinea, was elected Vice-President.
Two representatives to serve on the Executive were chosen from each of the four bishops conferences which make up the Federation.
This morning, Oceania bishops heard from four speakers in elective workshops. They were Sr Hilda OSB from the Jamberoo Benedictine Abbey, who some considered "the star" of the ABC's program The Abbey in 2007. Sr Hilda spoke about the Call to Holiness for bishops and Lectio Divina.
Marita Winters, Director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre, spoke on evangelisation using new media, exploring with the bishops ways how the internet, Twitter, Facebook and other social media could be utilised in service of the word of God.
"A few years ago when I was conducting media training, I used to tell people that if St Paul were alive he would not just be writing letters - he would be a multimedia personality with his own television show!
“Now I would say that if St Paul were alive in 2010 he’d be blogging on his travels, signing up new followers on Facebook and using Twitter to tweet hourly to his disciples about what’s happening!" said Marita.
Fr Maurizio Pettena CS, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, shared some insights into the celebrating and preaching in a migrant context. Maurizio discussed his years of experience as a migrant chaplain throughout the world, including his experience in countries such as the Philippines, Argentina, Italy and the United States.
Fr Vince Casey, standing in for Teresa Pirola who was not able to return in time from overseas, presented her workshop on how sacraments might be celebrated well in a wide variety of contexts.
Last night, bishops went to eight parishes across Sydney including Marrickville, Maroubra, Panania, Chatswood, Parramatta, Hunters Hill, Randwick and Concord – where they were given a welcome by various ethnic communities, as well as having an opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and share some hospitality with parishioners.
Archbishop John Dew, the newly elected President of the FCBCO, preached at Holy Family parish Maroubra (where he is pictured) on the US civil rights movement, and the action of women such as Rosa Parks in challenging racial segregation during the 1960s. In his homily, he wove in these stories by way of introducing to us a way of discerning the presence of God in our lives. This included the story of Annabelle, who was one of the many black women in the United States who challenged the racial segregation of the time through simple, heartfelt action. "As Annabelle sat in the bus next to a white woman who was looking down her nose, Annabelle heard the words "You are a temple of the Holy Spirit, you are a Child of God," said Archbishop Dew.
In a collective message to the Holy Father, the bishops of the Federation wrote: “We face many challenges in our dioceses and countries including political and economic tensions in some places and the spread of a secularist mentality that seeks to exclude Christianity. Yet, in spite of the challenges, there are so many positive signs of vibrant faith, hope and love.”


Our Lady of Fatima

Feast: May 13
Information:Feast Day: May 13
Throughout the Old Testament God, in His great mercy, chose prophets to call His people back to Him. In recent times God is sending His Mother. One of the apparitions of the Mother of God in this century took place in 1917 at Fatima, a little village in Portugal. Our Lady came there to warn us of the harm we would inflict upon ourselves as a result of our sins: wars, famines, plagues, persecution of the Church and the loss of many souls in Hell. God, in His great mercy, wished to save us from these miseries through the Immaculate Heart of His Mother. Our Heavenly Mother revealed at Fatima a plan of hope for this world which continues to plunge headlong toward its own destruction.
In 1915 an Angel appeared to four little girls, among them Lucia de Jesus dos Santos. While saying the Rosary they saw what looked like a cloud that was whiter than snow, slightly transparent, with a human outline. This same apparition took place on two more occasions, leaving the girls in a state of amazement.
One year later Lucia was tending sheep with her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. This time the Angel came with very distinguishable features. He said to them: "Don't be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." He then knelt and, bowing with his forehead to the ground, prayed three times: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee! I beg pardon of Thee for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee!" Then He said to the children: "Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications." With these words the Angel left them. The children felt so enveloped by God's Presence that they remained bowed to the ground for a long time repeating this prayer. This special atmosphere which they felt then gradually left them. Soon the three children were back to spending their days playing games together.
Lucia, the oldest of the children, was born on March 22, 1907 and was the youngest of seven. Francisco was born on June 11, 1908 and Jacinta on March 11, 1910. One day, while the three were playing, the Angel visited them again and said, "What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High." Lucia asked how they were to sacrifice. The Angel responded, "With all your power offer a sacrifice as an act of reparation for the sinners by whom He [the Lord] is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners. Thus draw peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all accept and endure with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you."
Only Lucia and Jacinta heard the Angel. Francisco had to learn what he said from them. By the light of grace the children understood the value of sacrifice. They spent many hours repeating the prayer he had taught them. In Autumn of that year the Angel appeared to them again. He was holding a chalice in his hand with a Host suspended over it from which drops of Blood were falling into the chalice. Leaving the Host and chalice suspended in mid-air the Angel prostrated himself on the ground praying three times, "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly and offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners." Then the Angel arose and gave the Sacred Host to Lucia. The contents of the chalice were given to Francisco and Jacinta while he said, "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God." Then the Angel again prostrated himself, praying three times, "Most Holy Trinity. . .."
On May 13th, 1917 the children were again playing their games, this time building castles out of rock in the field. Suddenly they saw a flash of light. Believing it to be lightning, even though the sky was clear, the children gathered the sheep and started for home. They took refuge under a tree about a hundred yards away. They saw a flash of light again. They began running, going about a hundred yards further when suddenly they saw, standing over a small holmoak tree, a Lady dressed in white more brilliant than the sun. She said, "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you! I am from Heaven. I come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the thirteenth day at this same hour. Then I will tell you who I am, and what I want. And afterwards I will return here a seventh time." (Our Lady appeared at the holmoak a total of six times. To this day there are only conjectures about when the seventh apparition took or will take place.) Lucia asked if the three of them would go to Heaven. The Lady said they would except that Francisco would have to say many Rosaries first. Lucia asked about two of her friends who had died. The Lady responded that one was in Heaven but the other would be in Purgatory until the end of the world. The Lady went on to say, "Do you wish to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings that He may please to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and to ask for the conversion of sinners?" Lucia responded, "Yes" for all three of them. Then the Lady said, "Then you will have much to suffer. But the grace of God will be your comfort." With this the Lady opened Her Hands and enveloped the children in light. Moved by an inward impulse, they fell to their knees praying, "O most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament." Again the Lady spoke saying, "Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war" [World War I].
Up to this point the visions of the children remained secret. This time Jacinta told her mother about her experience. News spread quickly around the village exposing the children to ridicule and disbelief. On June 13th Our Lady appeared again at the same spot, known as the Cova da Iria, and said to the children, "I want you to come here on the thirteenth day of the coming month and to recite five decades of the Rosary every day." Lucia asked if the Lady would take them to Heaven. The Lady responded that Jacinta and Francisco would be taken soon. But Lucia would have to remain to help establish in the world devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. Lucia began to cry thinking she would be left all alone. Our Lady comforted her by saying She would not forsake her. Then the children saw a Heart in Our Lady's right hand with thorns encircling It. They understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, for which reparation had to be made.
On July 13th crowds began to gather for the apparition. This time Our Lady said, "I want you to come here on the thirteenth day of the coming month, and to continue to say five decades of the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war. For She alone will be able to help." Lucia asked for a miracle to prove Her appearances to people who doubted. The Lady responded, "Continue to come here every month. In October I will tell you who I am and what I wish, and will perform a miracle that everyone will have to believe. . . Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: `O Jesus, it is for Thy love, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"
With these words light streamed from the Lady penetrating the earth. The children saw demons and people immersed in a sea of fire. From them came shrieks and groans of despair. Our Lady then said, "You see Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that is the great sign God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer [Jacinta later had more visions concerning a future Pope's suffering], various nations will be annihilated. In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be kept. Do not tell this to anyone. Francisco, yes, you may tell. [This became known as the secret, only part of which is disclosed here] When you say the Rosary, say after each Mystery, `O my Jesus, pardon us and deliver us from the fire of Hell. Draw all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need.'"
The governor of the area was a former Catholic turned Mason who was very set against the Church. On August 13th he offered to take the children to the apparition site in his carriage. Once they got inside he kidnapped them. He locked them in a room of his house. The next day he took them to the Town Hall. The children were questioned. He was especially interested in the "secret" which the Lady told them. The children would not tell him. Finding that he was getting nowhere he threw them in jail. After they spent a short time in the jail he questioned them again. At one point the governor threatened to throw them in boiling oil. Even this failed. He kept them locked up overnight at his house. The next day he questioned them again. Finally, seeing that his efforts were useless, he released them. On August 19th the Lady appeared to the children in a different place. She said, "I want you to continue to go to Cova da Iria on the thirteenth day and to continue to recite the Rosary every day. In the last month [October] I will perform the miracle so that all shall believe. . . Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to sacrifice and pray for them." Lucia asked the Lady what to do with the money that the crowd had left at the Cova da Iria. She said some should be used for a procession on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the rest should go for the support of the chapel which the people would build.
On September 13th the crowd had grown so much that the children could barely make their way to the apparition site. That day Our Lady said, "Continue to say the Rosary to bring about the end of the War. In October Our Lord will come also, and Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus, to bless the world. . ."October 13th was a very rainy day. Yet this did not keep believers and non-believers from coming to witness the miracle the Lady had promised. Some estimated the crowd at around 70,000. The Lady came at noon and Lucia asked Her, "What do You want of me?" She responded, "I want to tell you to have them build a Chapel here in My honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Let them continue to say the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes." Lucia asked Our Lady if She would grant some requests given to her by the people. Our Lady said, "Some yes, others no. It is necessary that they amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. Let them offend Our Lord God no more, for He is already much offended." As Our Lady ascended from their sight She opened Her Hands and pointed toward the sun. The children then saw in the sky three tableau of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Then the Holy Family appeared. St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus blessed the crowd three times. Next only Lucia saw Our Lady of Sorrows beside Her Suffering Son Who also blessed the crowd. Finally the children saw Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the Infant Jesus upon Her knee.
The crowd, on the other hand, saw something very different. The people stared at the sun which started dancing in the sky. Then it whirled rapidly, emitting flames of fire which reflected many different colors upon the earth. Finally it appeared to be plummeting from the sky toward the crowd which frightened the people very much. Some thought it was the end of the world. Then the sun reversed its direction and returned to its normal position in the sky. As the people regained their senses they noticed still another miracle. Although it had been a very rainy day now the ground and even their clothes were dry.
The public apparitions ceased but the children, from time to time, would still see Our Lady. Toward the end of October, 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became ill with influenza. On April 4th, 1919 Francisco died of this disease. He had spent the remainder of his short life in prayer and penance. He was often seen praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament. Francisco, with great insight for his young age, talked about "the hidden Jesus" in the tabernacle. Jacinta's agony would last longer. She offered up heroic sacrifices during her illness. She developed pneumonia and then pleurisy. She was taken to a hospital at Ourem. After two months she returned home with an incision in her chest. A doctor on pilgrimage visited Jacinta and said she should go to the children's hospital in Lisbon. So mother and child set out on the journey. In Lisbon they stayed for a few days at an orphanage run by a Franciscan nun, Mother Godinho.
Mother Godinho had an opportunity to converse with Jacinta. Jacinta told her that war is the punishment for the sins of mankind. If people would repent Jesus would save the world but if they did not He would punish it. She talked about the importance of Confession, that it was a Sacrament of mercy and that it was necessary for salvation. Jacinta mentioned the great charity we must have, even for the wicked, and that we should never speak ill words about anyone. She emphasized the value of patience and that it would bring us to Heaven. Jacinta said that many people were in Hell due to the sins of the flesh. She prophesied that certain women's fashions would be introduced which would be very offensive to Our Lady.
When Jacinta was at the hospital in Lisbon the doctors talked about performing an operation. She said that it would all be in vain because she was going to die. She even had someone write to Lucia informing her of the day and hour of her death. Mother Godinho continued to converse with her. Jacinta prophesied other incidents about certain people and these later came true. Because of her weakened state only a local anaesthesia could be given for the operation. They removed two ribs and left an open wound in her chest the size of a fist. She suffered very much but never complained. Four days before her death Our Lady came and took all her pains away. On February 20th, 1920, she died. Fifteen years later her body was moved to a cemetery at Fatima and was found still whole and incorrupt.
A small chapel was built by the people to Our Lady. In 1922 a bomb destroyed this chapel. Another bomb placed at the holmoak above which Our Lady stood during the apparitions did not explode. Many years later a great shrine to Our Lady of Fatima was built which included a hospital, convent and retreat house.
In 1921 the Bishop, due to the numerous pilgrims who came to see Lucia and her family, told Lucia to attend the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy near Oporto where she would be unknown. At the school the Mother Superior changed her name to Maria of the Sorrows. Lucia was told not to speak about the apparitions. In 1925 Lucia joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy.
On December 10, 1925, Our Lady, with the Child Jesus beside Her, appeared to Sister Lucia in her room. She was holding out Her Heart surrounded by sharp thorns. Both asked for reparation to be made to the Immaculate Heart. Our Lady promised to assist with all the necessary graces for salvation at death those who would make the Five First Saturdays. That is, those who, for five consecutive first Saturdays of the month, would go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and spend fifteen minutes meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, all with the intention of making reparation to Her. (Later Our Lord said that Confession could be on another day as long as one receives Holy Communion in the state of grace.)
On May 29, 1930 Our Lord explained to Sr. Lucy that the five Saturdays were in reparation for: 1. Those who deny the Immaculate Conception. 2. Those who deny Our Lady's virginity. 3. Those who deny Our Lady's Divine maternity and that She is the Mother of all mankind. 4. Those who cause children to have indifference, contempt or hatred toward Our Lady. 5. Those who commit outrages against Holy Images of Our Lady.
In 1927, at the Convent in Spain to which she was transferred, Lucia, in a vision, received permission to reveal two parts of a three-part secret which she received from Our Lady at the Cova da Iria during the July 13th apparitions: the vision of Hell and the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart. The third part of this secret was given to the Bishop and later was given to the Pope. Sr. Lucia asked that it not be made public before 1960. This part of the secret has never been made public.
In 1929, during Lucia's weekly Thursday Holy Hour between 11 P.M. and midnight, she saw a cross of light appear above the altar. On the cross was Jesus Crucified. From Our Lord's wounded side and His face drops of Blood fell onto a Host, then into a chalice below, which were suspended in the air. From the left arm of the cross large letters reading "Grace and Mercy" made of what appeared to be water ran down upon the altar. On the top of the cross was the image of the Eternal Father. Before Him was a dove of light representing the Holy Spirit. Beneath the right arm of the cross was Our Lady of Fatima with Her Immaculate Heart in Her left hand. In the midst of this vision Our Lady made a request for the Pope to consecrate the world to Her Immaculate Heart in union with all the Bishops of the world, making a special mention of Russia.
This request was brought to the attention of the Pope. Our Lord told Sr. Lucy He wanted this consecration so that, by Our Lady's triumph, devotion to the Immaculate Heart would spread throughout the whole Church placing it beside the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Our Lord said that the Holy Father would make the consecration but it would be late. He added that the Immaculate Heart would save Russia
World War II began just as predicted by Our Lady of Fatima. In 1938 unusual lights appeared in the sky which, according to Lucia, was the sign promised by Our Lady before God's punishment of the world. Shortly thereafter the war began with the annexation of Austria by Hitler during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. In 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart. He did not, however, do this in union with all the Bishops. Our Lord told Lucia that He was pleased with this act although incomplete according to His desire. Because of it He promised to end World War II. But the conversion of Russia would not take place.
Some people thought, based on the example of the Fatima children, that the sacrifices requested by Our Lady were too great for them to perform. In 1943 Our Lord told Sr. Lucy that the penance He now desired was the fulfillment of one's duties in life and the sacrifices required in the observance of His Law. This type of penance was possible for everyone. In 1944 the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was put on the Church Calendar to be celebrated on August 22nd. After Vatican II the Church Calendar was revised changing the celebration of August 22nd to the Saturday following the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which is always the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi. In 1946 John M. Haffert, a great promoter of the Brown Scapular, asked Sr. Lucy to help him formulate a Fatima message pledge which people could make. In 1947 Msgr. Colgan, inspired by the Fatima messages, began the Blue Army. A little later he met John Haffert who told him about the Fatima Pledge. Fr. Colgan appointed him to spread the Blue Army in the U.S. The Blue Army became the greatest apostolate for promoting the messages of Fatima.In 1948 Sr. Lucia entered the Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal. Later she took for her religious name Sr. Maria of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In an interview with John Haffert that same year Sister said the most important request of Fatima is the fulfillment of one's daily duty. Praying the Rosary aids one in doing this. The First Saturdays help one to free oneself from sin and renews the commitment to fulfill one's daily duties. Two years later in another interview with John Haffert Sister explained that wearing the Brown Scapular is also part of the Fatima message. It is a sign of one's consecration to the Immaculate Heart
Russia continued to spread her errors all around the world, fulfilling Our Lady's prophecies. An attempt was even made on the life of Pope John Paul II on May 13th, 1981. The Holy Father believed that Our Lady of Fatima saved his life. This led him to see that the only way to save the world from atheism was the consecration requested by Our Lady of Fatima. On March 25, 1984, the Holy Father consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. According to Sr. Lucia this consecration was accepted by Our Lady. The result was the peaceful fall of Communism a few years later.
Certainly we see the mercy of God in the Fatima apparitions. God really wishes to have mercy on the whole world. He forewarns us of evils which will befall us, by our own fault, if we do not return to Him. He gives us His Mother to help us and guide us. Had we responded to His grace World War II would never have happened, Russia would have been converted sooner and the world would have peace. It is evident that we have not lived the Fatima messages as we should. How patient God has been with humanity! God wishes all people to save their souls. Because we are all part of God's family His mercy allows us to make reparation for the sins of others. This not only consoles God for their offenses but can bring about the conversion of the offenders. If wars and punishments come upon the earth it is still God's mercy. By allowing these events He wishes sinners to turn to Him with a purpose of amendment and say, "My Jesus, mercy." And those in the state of God's grace, some lukewarm in their love of God and neighbor, are brought to greater fervor and more detachment from the passing things of this world. God is our Father. He doesn't want us to suffer. But sometimes it is necessary for the salvation of many souls.
Let us respond to Our Lady's messages by living God-centered lives and by fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, the fulfillment of our daily duty and the keeping of God's Commandments, making the Five First Saturdays, wearing the Brown Scapular as a sign of our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and praying the Holy Rosary every day!

St. John the Silent

Feast: May 13
Information: Feast Day: May 13
Born: 8 January 454 at Nicopolis, Armenia
Died: 558
John had his surname given him from his love of silence and recollection. He was born at Nicopolis in Armenia, in the year 454. His descent by both parents was from the most illustrious generals and governors of that part of the empire; but he derived from their virtue a much more illustrious nobility than that of their pedigree. They were solicitous above all things to give their son the most holy education. After their death, he, with part of his estate, built at Nicopolis a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin, as also a monastery, in which, with ten fervent companions, he shut himself up when only eighteen years of age, with a view of making the salvation and most perfect sanctification of his soul his only and earnest pursuit, directing to this end all his thoughts and endeavors. As humility is the foundation and guardian of all virtue, this he labored in the first place to obtain.
Accordingly he made it his earnest petition to God; and, by assiduous meditation on his own nothingness, his absolute insufficiency, numberless miseries, and baseness, and on the infinite majesty and adorable perfections of God, he studied to know God and himself. He learned sincerely to look upon all manner of humiliations as his due, and to receive them with joy from whatever quarter they were sent; and cheerfully to exercise himself in those which appeared most repugnant to flesh and blood, and most proper to beat down all secret sentiments of pride. To kill the seeds of all other vices, he practiced the most constant and severe denial of his own will, and he added corporal austerities to subdue his flesh, and to fit his soul for the spiritual functions of contemplation and prayer. Not only to shun the danger of sin by the tongue, but also out of a sense of sincere humility and contempt of himself, and the love of interior recollection and prayer, he very seldom spoke; and if necessity obliged him to open his mouth, it was always in very few words, and with great discretion. He banished sloth out of his little community as a fruitful source of vice, and the poison of all virtue. Some humbling, painful, and useful labor, filled up in his house all the intervals of time which public prayer and other necessary duties left vacant. His mildness, prudence, and piety, won him the esteem and affection of all. his brethren, who strove in every virtue to be the copies of their holy abbot. But, to his extreme affliction, when he was only twenty-eight years old, the archbishop of Sebaste obliged him to quit his retreat, and ordained him bishop of Colonian in Armenia in 482.
In this dignity John preserved always the same spirit, and, as much as was compatible with the duties of his charge, continued his monastic austerities and exercises. His brother and nephew, who enjoyed honorable places in the emperor's palace, were moved by his example to contemn the world in the very midst of its honors, and the same grace which sanctifies anchorets in their deserts, made them saints in the court. But he found not the same comfort in a brother-in-law, who was governor of Armenia, against whose oppressions of his church the saint was obliged to have recourse to the emperor Zeno, and readily obtained his protection.
St. John had fulfilled all the duties of a holy bishop nine years, practicing all the austerities of his former life, and refusing to allow himself even the necessary conveniences of life, that he might bestow all he possessed on the poor. He instructed his flock by preaching, and, by his example, invited them to practice what he taught. He was the comforter of all that were in affliction, and bore their burdens with them; and he never ceased to instil sentiments of humility, moderation, and compunction, into the hearts of those who lived in the more dangerous flattering state of worldly prosperity. He was the father of all, and carried them all in his heart, that he might plant in them the spirit, and transfer them into the heart of Christ. Certain evils which he found it impossible for him to remedy, joined with his strong inclination to a retired life, gave him an earnest desire to resign his charge. By the rule of the church and his sacred engagement, he was bound not to abandon the spouse to which he was tied, or to leave exposed to wolves a flock which the supreme Pastor had intrusted to his care. But the divine grace sometimes makes exceptions in order to raise a soul to an extraordinary sanctity. John had reason at first to look upon the thought of such a project as suspected, to examine it impartially, and to consult God for a considerable time by earnest prayer. The author of his life assures us, that while he was watching one night in prayer, he saw before him a bright cross formed in the air, and heard a voice, which said to him, "If thou desires" to be saved, follow this light." He then seemed to see it move before him, and at length point out to the Laura of St. Sabas.
Being satisfied what the sacrifice was which God required at his hands, he found means to abdicate the episcopal charge, and embarked in a vessel bound for Palestine. He went first to Jerusalem, and having there performed his devotions, retired to the neighboring Laura of St. Sabas, which at that time contained one hundred and fifty fervent monks, all animated with the spirit of their holy founder and superior. St. John was then thirty-eight years old. St. Sabas first placed him under the steward of the Laura, to fetch water, carry stones, and serve the workmen in building a new hospital. John went and came like a beast of burden, continuing always recollected in God, always cheerful and silent. After this trial, the experienced superior appointed him to receive and entertain strangers. The blessed man served every one as if he had served Christ himself, whom he considered in his members; and all persons were exceedingly edified with his humility and devotion. Saint Sabas observed every step, and admired to see the behavior of this young monk in an employment which is often dangerous to the monastic spirit, even in those that are most advanced. For the dissipation of such an attendance seemed no way to interrupt his attention to God, or abate his spirit of recollection. St. Sabas by this time clearly perceived that his novice was already a masterly proficient in the monastic profession, and eminently endowed with the spirit of his vocation. Therefore, to afford him opportunities of the greatest spiritual progress by uninterrupted contemplation, he allowed him a separate hermitage, which was his method only with regard to the more perfect. During five days in the week, which he passed without taking any nourishment, John never left his cell; but on Saturdays and Sundays he attended the public worship of God in the church.
After passing three years in this eremitical life, he was made steward of the Laura. His virtue drew a blessing on the community; neither was this employment any distraction to his mind. Such, indeed, was his love to God, that his soul stood in need of no effort to think continually of him. Such a habit is not to be attempted at once. Too strained an attention might hurt the head, as experience has sometimes shown. This practice, and a constant attention to the divine presence, is to be acquired at first by frequent ejaculations to God during exterior actions, repeated at intervals; either such as naturally occur to the devout mind, or select ones of divine praise, compunction, love, &c., such as are contained in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, or other parts of the inspired writings. By this method, such a practice in John grew habitual, and by daily use became more perfect and familiar.
Our saint had discharged this last office four years, when St. Sabas, judging him worthy to be promoted to the priesthood, presented him to the Patriarch Elias. When they came to the church of Mount Calvary, where the ordination was to be performed, St. John said to the patriarch, "Holy father, I have something to impart to you in private; after which, if you judge me worthy, I will receive holy orders." The patriarch tool. him aside, and John, having obtained from him a promise of secrecy, said, "Father, I have been ordained bishop; but on account of the multitude of my sins have fled, and am come into this desert to wait the visit of the Lord."
The patriarch was startled, and calling in St. Sabas, said to him, "I desire to be excused from ordaining this man, on account of some particulars he has discovered to me." St. Sabas went back much afflicted, fearing lest John had been formerly guilty of some grievous crime. Under this uncertainty, God revealed to him, at his request, the state of the affair. Whereupon calling for John, he complained to him of his unkindness in concealing the matter from him. Finding himself discovered, John was for quitting the Laura, nor could St. Sabas prevail on him to stay, but on a promise never to divulge the secret. John lived after this four years in his cell, without speaking to any one except to the person who brought him necessaries. In the year 503, the factious spirit of certain turbulent disciples obliged St. Sabas to quit his Laura. St. John, that he might have no part in such an unhappy disturbance, withdrew into a neighboring wilderness, where he spent six years in silence, conversing only with God, and subsisting on the wild roots and herbs which the desert afforded. When St. Sabas was called home again, he went to seek St. John in his desert, and brought him back, in 510.
But a long and happy experience had taught him, that a soul which has been accustomed to converse only with God, finds nothing but emptiness and bitterness in any thing besides. His love of obscurity and humility made him desire more and more to live unknown to men; but such was the lustre of his sanctity as rendered it impossible for him to succeed herein to the full extent of his desire. He went back with his old master, and confined himself for forty years to his cell, after his return to the Laura; but did not refuse instructions to those who resorted to him. Among whom was the judicious and learned monk Cyril, who wrote his life when the saint had lived forty years in his hermitage, after his return, and was one hundred and four years old. He at that age retained the vigor of his mind, and that sweetness which rendered him always amiable and venerable. This Cyril of Scythopolis, who is one of the ablest writers of antiquity, relates, that in his youth, when he was about sixteen years of age, he addressed himself to St. John, who was then ninety years old, and begged his advice concerning the choice of a state of life. The holy old man advised him to dedicate himself to God in the monastery of St. Euthymius. Cyril, however, preferred one of the little monasteries on the banks of the Jordan. But he was no sooner arrived at the place than he fell sick of a fever.
His distemper every day augmented, and he began grievously to afflict and condemn himself for having neglected the advice of the servant of God. But in the night St. John appearing to him in his sleep, after a gentle reprimand for not having followed his counsel, told him, that if he repaired to the monastery of St. Euthymius, he should be restored to his health, and should find his salvation. The next morning he arose, and, notwithstanding the entreaties of the brethren, broke from them, and having taken no other refreshment but that of the blessed eucharist, which he had received that morning, he set out, walked to the aforesaid monastery of St. Euthymius, and found himself perfectly recovered. The same author tells us, that while he was conversing one day with St. John on matters of piety, he saw a man named George bring his son, who was a child possessed by the devil, and lay him on the ground before the saint without speaking a word. St. John understood the miserable condition of the child, and made the sign of the cross on his forehead with blessed oil, and the same instant the child was delivered from the evil spirit. A nobleman of Constantinople, who was infected with Eutychianism, was introduced by one Theodorus to the saint. The holy man gave his blessing to Theodorus, but refused it to the nobleman, with a mild reproach for his schism and heresy; who, seeing that he could only have been apprized or these circumstances by revelation, became upon the spot a most devout Catholic. St. John, by his example and counsels, conducted many fervent souls to God, and continued in his hermitage to emulate, as much as this mortal state will allow, the glorious employment of the heavenly spirits in an uninterrupted exercise of love and praise, till he passed to their blessed company, soon after the year 558; having lived seventy-six years in the desert, which had only been interrupted by the nine years of his episcopal dignity.

John 16: 16 - 20
16 "A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me."
17 Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, `because I go to the Father'?"
18 They said, "What does he mean by `a little while'? We do not know what he means."
19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'?
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
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