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While many Fatima devotees know the salient aspects of Our Lady’s message and the various events surrounding the apparitions, certain details or nuances could yet be overlooked. We dare offer here several points for study and reflection in the hope they will help one better appreciate the meaning of the Fatima message:

 

1.    A seventh apparition

Our Lady appeared six times at Fatima from May, 1917 to October, 1917. However, during the first apparition Our Lady mentioned that she will return to Cova the Iria, the site of the apparition, a seventh time. In her own words Our Lady said,

“I have come here to ask you to come here for six months in succession on the thirteenth day of each month at this same hour. Later I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterward, I will return here a seventh time.”

Although Fatima specialists differ in their opinions with regard to its interpretation, nothing against Faith prevents a Catholic to hope and confide that this promise would be fulfilled in the near future. Certainly it is a glorious and most singular event a faithful Catholic could eagerly look forward to especially in our confusing and chaotic times. Perhaps, the seventh apparition would usher in the time of peace that St. Louis Grignion de Montfort described as the Reign of Mary and which Our Lady prophesied as the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.

 

2.    The Rosary and Purgatory                             

Also on the above occasion, Our Lady revealed to the three children that Francisco must say many Rosaries before he will go to Heaven and that a certain Amelia will be in Purgatory until the end of the world.

Here, Our Lady reiterates the salutary practice of praying the most Holy Rosary as a means to save one’s soul and offers it as a guarantee to Francisco’s safe passage to Heaven -certainly an invaluable counsel from the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

She likewise points out the very reality of the existence of Purgatory and even cites a striking example of a poor yet already saved soul who will endure its purifying fires till the end of the world. According to the research done by Father Sebastião Martins dos Reis, Amelia died under circumstances involving dishonor in matters of chastity. Shocking as this fact may had been to  Father Thomas McGlynn, O.P. during his own interview, Sister Lucia recalled that more tragic were those souls who suffered the fires of hell forever because of a single mortal sin!

 

3.    The difference between the Angel’s and Our Lady’s apparitions

The children’s physical, emotional and psychological experience with the Angel of Portugal and Our Lady were different. In her memoirs, Sister Lucia writes,

“I do not know why, but the fact is that the apparitions of Our Lady had a very different effect on us. There was the same intimate gladness, the same peace and happiness. But instead of physical weariness, we felt a certain expansive liveliness, a sense of glee instead of that annihilation in the Divine Presence, a certain communicative enthusiasm instead of that difficulty in speaking…”

One stark contrast between the angel and Our Lady is their different natures. The former is pure spirit while the latter is flesh and spirit; body and soul. The angel’s superior nature drained much energy from the children which left them in a state of annihilation.

Since the children are of the same nature as Our Lady, one could surmise that this may explain why the children were more at ease with Our Lady. The human nature they shared with Our Lady found a pleasing and lively consonance with her. One could feel assurance and confidence in Lucia’s observation and experience that, indeed, Our Lady was assumed into Heaven in both body and soul – a dogma of the Faith.

 

4.    The importance of prayer, penance, sacrifices and mortification for the conversion of sinners.

While it is true that the above is the constant and recurring theme of Our Lady’s Fatima message, it behooves Catholics to understand how and why it is so; especially in modern minds where the notion of mortification and penance is watered down or simply brushed aside as archaic or medieval.

The gravity of the moral crisis pervasive in the world requires continued prayers, penances and sacrifices which prompted the three children especially little Francisco and Jacinta to practice them to an extreme and heroic degree. At the height of their innocence, the two younger children understood their necessity and offered themselves admirably as expiatory victims. But Our Lady’s appeal for prayer and penance made to the children also applies to the rest of mankind.

According to Father Fredrick William Faber, D.D. in his book, Growth in Holiness, much is to be gained by us lesser mortals in the practice of mortification for it tames the body and brings the unruly passions under the control of grace and our superior will. It increases the range of our spiritual vision and makes our conscience more sensitive to the discernment of the subtleties that separate not only those between venial and mortal sins but also those between what is faulty and imperfect.

Suffering easily becomes power in the things of God. For isn’t it true that Our Lord redeemed mankind through His bloody sacrifice and immense suffering on Calvary?

Leading mortified lives encourages us to persevere in prayer, gives us strength in resisting temptations, makes us unworldly and frees our heart from earthly vanities and attachments.

 

5.    The persecutions suffered by the children from family and friends, people and media because of the apparitions 

Lucia, in particular, was most aggrieved by the incredulity of her mother and kin as well as by the withdrawal of their affectionate treatment of her. Her sufferings were much more intensified given her tender age.

Francisco and Jacinta fared better within their family for their parents never held a hostile attitude towards the apparitions. Yet, they weren’t spared from the jokes and wisecracks of neighbors and from the laughter and sneers of by-standers along the road.

The skeptical and secular media of their day were no less forgiving in subjecting them to ridicule and sarcasm. Nationwide, newspapers staged a bitter campaign of hatred and denigration to discredit the apparitions.

Nevertheless, despite all these ill-treatment and vitriolic affronts, the children bore them with admirable patience and charity always mindful of Our Lady’s request to offer their sacrifices for the sake of poor sinners. An edifying example one should emulate in the daily inconveniences one encounters everyday. Here one is reminded of St. Therése of the Child Jesus’ little way.

 

6.    Modifications to the Five First Saturday Devotion to facilitate its practice

The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.

In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:

  1. Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturday so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  2. Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  3. Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturday.  One or several suffice.

With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

 

7.    Reasons for the Five First Saturdays Devotion

This may seem academic to some but it would be good to recapitulate here the reasons for they can be forgotten. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:

a. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception

b. Blasphemies against her virginity

c. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men

d. Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children

e. Direct insults against Her sacred images

 

8.    A greater miracle denied

Sister Lucia revealed later in her life that the miracle of the sun could have been greater had the children not been abducted by Arthur Oliveira Santos, the cruel and conniving administrator of the Administrative Council of Vila Nova de Ourém. She originally expressed this remarkable detail in the interrogation done by Father Manuel Marques Ferreira on August 21, 1917, two days after the apparition but which she left out in her 1941 report.

Here is a fitting example of a transgression committed against the wishes of Our Lady which she left unpunished. Though no fault of the children, it is lamentably sad to note that the multitudes at Fatima on the afternoon of October 13, 1917 were deprived of a far greater miracle if not for the deception, trickery and malice of civil authorities.

 

9.    Unknown light or Aurora Borealis?

Sister Lucia considered the extraordinary light that illuminated the skies of Europe on the night of January 25-26, 1938 during the hours of 8:45 p.m. to 1:15 a.m., as “the great sign” - the unknown light that Our Lady predicted that would signal that war was near.

Astronomers and skeptic brush it off as a mere aurora borealis though its character was remarkably unprecedented.

Interestingly enough, the book, The Secrets of Fatima explains:

"This aurora appeared as far south as Galicia, Spain, where Sister Lucy was then cloistered, and she, the only survivor of the three Fatima shepherds, recognized it immediately as the sign. Visible even to Pius XI in Rome, the unprecedented aurora was accompanied by a ‘crackling' sound, possibly attributable to discharges of atmospheric energy. Indeed, in many areas of Europe, panic broke out; as the populace concluded that the world was on fire and that the End had come."

The New York Times for January 26, 1938, carried the following:

"London, January 25th, 1938. The Aurora Borealis rarely seen in Southern or Western Europe spread fear in parts of Portugal and lower Austria tonight while thousands of Britons were brought running into the streets in wonderment. The ruddy glow led many to think half the city was ablaze. The Windsor Fire Department was called out thinking that Windsor Castle was afire. The lights were clearly seen in Italy, Spain, and even Gibraltar. The glow bathing snow-clad mountain tops in Austria and Switzerland was a beautiful sight but firemen turned out to chase non-existent fires. Portuguese villagers rushed in fright from their homes fearing the end of the world."

 

10.    Jacinta’s last words:

Tempered and molded by extraordinary penance and sacrifice, 10-year-old Jacinta proved to be precocious and prophetic in her vision of things. She had many private apparitions and countless revelations. Such was her supernatural illumination and holy wisdom that Mother Godinho, the directress of the Lisbon orphanage where Jacinta stayed prior to her death in the hospital, could only asked in awe and wonder, “Who taught you all these things?” The following statements uttered by Jacinta showed her depth of soul in face of the moral decay ravishing the world:

  • The sins which cause most souls to go to Hell are the sins of the flesh.
  • To be pure of body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not look at what one should not see, not to steal, never to lie, always to tell the truth however hard it may be.
  • Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear. People who serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.
  • Doctors do not have the light to cure the sick because they do not have love of God
  • Priests should only occupy themselves with the affairs of the Church. Priests should be pure, very pure. The disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors and to the Holy Father greatly offends Our Lord.
  • To be a woman religious, it is necessary to be very pure in soul and body.
  • Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord, and they are not of God.
  • Confession is a sacrament of mercy. Therefore, one must approach the confessional with confidence and joy.
  • My godmother, pray much for those who govern! Woe to those who persecute the religion of Our Lord. If the government left the Church in peace and gave freedom to the holy Faith, it would be blessed by God.
  • Wars are nothing but punishments for the sins of the world.
  • Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of her beloved Son from the world. It is necessary to do penance. If people change their ways, Our Lord will still spare the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come.      
     

 

Click here for a Print friendly version of this list!

 

Sources:
a.    Fatima: A Message More urgent than Ever, Luiz Sergio Solimeo
b.    Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy and Hope, Augusto A. Borelli
c.    Growth in Holiness, Father William Fredrick Faber, D.D.

 

 

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DAILY QUOTE for November 22, 2017

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except t...

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November 22

 

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except through thee;
no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God;
no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother;
no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O Filled-With-All-Grace!”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople


Why, O Sorrowful Mother, do you weep SO bitterly?

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Cecilia

Skeptical of his new wife and her religion, Valerian demande...

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St. Cecilia

Cecilia was a devout Christian maiden of noble Roman birth who lived during the early part of the third century. At a very young age, she secretly dedicated herself to God, resolving to remain a virgin to her death. She fasted and prayed often, and wore a coarse shift under her clothes as a perpetual penance.

Although she had consecrated her body to the Lord, Cecilia’s father wished her to marry. She obeyed and married Valerian, the man her father had chosen for her. However, on the night they were married, Cecilia said to her new husband, “I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you touch me in the way of marriage, he will be angry and you will suffer; but if you respect my maidenhood he will love you as he loves me.”

Skeptical of his new wife and her religion, Valerian demanded to be shown the angel. “If you believe in the living and one true God and receive the water of baptism,” Cecilia told him, “then you shall see the angel.” The young man agreed, and sought out Bishop Urban who baptized him. Upon his return, Valerian found Cecilia in prayer with a crown of roses and lilies on her head. He saw that beside her stood an angel, who immediately crowned him as well.

Soon after, Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, found them praying in the chapel. He saw the crowns of flowers on their heads and the angel standing near and he, too, converted. From that time, the two brothers devoted themselves to the work of God. They were arrested and after refusing to pay homage to false idols, were tortured and killed.

Knowing that the two were married, officials visited Cecilia and tried to persuade her to worship the false idols. Instead, her holiness converted the officials who came to her door, and she was instead ordered to appear before Almachius, the provost of Rome. The provost entreated her to denounce Christ, and when she refused, condemned her to death. They barred her in her home and fed her furnace seven times the normal amount, an act that would have suffocated any other. However, after a day and a night spent in the fatal conditions, Cecilia still lived.

Almachius then sent a soldier to her house to behead her. The executioner struck her three times on the neck and still could not smite her head from her body. By law he could not do so a fourth time and he left her to die. During the three days of her agony, Cecilia gave all that she had to the poor, continually preached the faith, and all those who were converted by her words and example she sent to Pope Urban to be baptized.
St. Urban and his deacons buried her among the bishops in the catacomb of St. Callixtus along the Apian Way. As she had requested, her house was transformed into a church by the Holy Pontiff and it has remained in the service of the Church until this day.

St. Cecilia is known as the patroness of musicians because it is said that during the three days in which she lay dying, the crowd that had gathered could hear angels singing.

Second Photo by: Claude Valette

WEEKLY STORY

The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

Click here to Order your free Miraculous Medal and Novena

Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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