WEDNESDAY
May 9, 2000
volume 11, no. 89

THE FAITH OF THE FATIMA SHEPHERDS Series         INTRODUCTION

    We are delighted to work with Father Robert Fox in bringing you this special series on the Fatima shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto who will be beatified on May 13th this year by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. The following articles on the spirituality of these holy Portuguese children is the focal point of his articles as we soon will celebrate the 83rd anniversary of the First Apparition at Fatima on May 13, 1917. Our Lady asked for the conversion of Russia and we are humbled in obediently publishing his words in Russian as well as bringing you his articles that appeared in the April-June issue of the full-color magazine Fr. Fox edits and publishes, Immaculate Heart Messenger. To order a subscription or to find out about other materials such as books and tapes or about the upcoming 18th Annual National Marian Congress to be held on the weekend of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 9-11 at the Shrine in Alexandria, South Dakota, call the toll-free number: 800-213-5541.


THE FAITH OF THE FATIMA SHEPHERDS

installment six:

Spirituality of Blessed Francisco Marto part two

    Heaven does nothing for nothing

        Heaven does nothing for nothing. This which we just reviewed happened at the very moment our Lady did two things: 1. She opened her hands. 2. She said the words "the Grace of God". That is, when they were inundated in the light which was God.

        Recall how, when our Lady first appeared, Francisco did not immediately see her. He knew that Lucia and Jacinta were seeing something very special. Our Lady then told Lucia to tell Francisco to say the Rosary and he would see the beautiful Lady from Heaven. He took out his Rosary and had said about five or six Hail Mary's when he could see the beautiful Heavenly Lady bathed in brilliant light, brighter than the sun.

        Was not our Lady in this instance again leading Francisco to become more of the contemplative? He must think, inquire, pray. When Lucia asked if Francisco would go to heaven too our Lady said, "Yes, but first he must say many Rosaries." Learning this, Francisco cried out excitedly: "Oh, Our Lady, I will say all the Rosaries you wish!"

        Note "Our" Lady. We must not act as if she is only "My" Lady. She is the Mother of us all; Mother of the Church. Rejoice if others are drawing people to Jesus through Mary. Rejoice if the work of others seems to bear even more fruit than your own hard efforts which may go unnoticed. If others get the credit, then like Francisco, say, "Oh what difference does it matter? Let's just think of God, Mary, the Angel."

        One time, I asked John, the brother of Francisco, if he thought Francisco was holier than himself when he was a boy. He answered, "No. Not until I noticed he was always saying the Rosary. Then I would go and hide from him so that I didn't have to see him always praying that Rosary."

        John on August 19 was with Lucia and Francisco at Valinhos when Lucia sensed our Lady was coming, for there was always a change in the atmosphere when she was coming, like a dimming of the sun. The children had been put in jail for the 13th by the Administrator and so could not keep their appointment with our Lady at noon in the Cova da Iria. John did not want to run back to Aljustrel which was short distance to get Jacinta because if our Lady was coming, he wanted to see her too. Lucia, however, easily bought him off with two coins and off he took. John informed me that he returned with Jacinta to Valinhos. I asked him if he saw or heard anything. John frequently liked to say: "Lucia saw, heard and spoke; Jacinta saw and heard, but did not speak; Francisco only saw, but neither heard nor spoke; I neither saw, nor heard, nor spoke."

        Francisco, the contemplative, had no problem keeping to himself the appearance of the beautiful Lady from heaven. Remember Lucia's strong admonitions. They must keep all quiet less the roof fell in. She had an experience a couple years earlier, in 1915, with several girls when they saw the vague appearance of an angel. The other girls talked and got into trouble for saying it. Lucia had already then kept quiet. So Lucia cautioned especially vivacious Jacinta. How disgusted Francisco was with his young sister. "Oh, Lucia, Jacinta went out and told everybody at home what happened."

        Sometimes when Lucia and Jacinta would be at play, Francisco would go off by himself to pray the Rosary. One time when Lucia found him atop a rock and asked what he had been doing up there all this time, he answered: "I was thinking about God, who is so offended by the innumerable sins committed. What would I not give to be able to console Him?" Francisco was very taken up with the desire to console God, who was so offended by the sins of people.

        Obviously the spirit of contemplation sank more deeply into Francisco. Being pressed by his sister and cousin to come play, he would hold up his Rosary beads. He would answer: "Afterwards! Don't you remember that I must say many Rosaries before I can go to Heaven?

    The logic of Francisco

        The contemplative Francisco was also very logical. When Lucia had been convinced that maybe it was the devil appearing and so she was not going to return to the Cova da Iria on the 13th of July, Francisco said, "It is a pity. Why do you think like that about matter? Don't you see that it can't be the demon? God, our Lord, is already so hurt by the sins committed. If you do not go, He will become sadder still. Decide once for all! Courage! Didn't our Lady say that we would have much to suffer in reparation for the numerous sins committed against our Lord and her Immaculate Heart which hurt so much. And you are going about so sad, when you could offer up this suffering in reparation. We should be pleased."

        Quite a contemplative. Our divine Lord took up His Cross to redeem us with interior joy and wanted to share His joy with us. Joy, even in suffering was the way of Jesus Christ and the way it must be with those who discover the deeper secrets of spirituality.

        One day, Lucia asked Francisco which he liked better: to console our Lord or to convert sinners to prevent more souls from going to hell. Francisco did not have to hesitate to answer that question.

        "I prefer to console our Lord. Don't you remember last month how our Lady became so sad when she asked us not to offend our Lord who was already so offended? I want to console our Lord, and then to convert sinners so that they won't offend Him any more."

        One day when Jacinta and Lucia came into his room, he asked them not to talk much as he had a bad headache. Jacinta told him not to forget to offer it up for sinners. He answered; "Yes, but first of all I am offering it up to console our Lord and our Lady, then for sinners and the Holy Father." He had his priorities right. Love of God, love of neighbor.

        All three of the children received the same message from heaven. Yet, each of them had a special part of it which they stressed, while not forgetting the other parts. Jacinta's main desire was to convert sinners and save souls from going to hell, where they suffer so much and forever. Francisco preferred to think mostly of consoling our Lord and our Lady, both of whom seemed so sad at sin.

        His great reverence for God was seen in asking one of the men prisoners to take his hat off when they prayed. Of the threat of boiling oil, the nine-year-old boy said: "If they kill us, as they say they intend doing we will be in heaven in a few minutes' time! How lucky we are. I do not mind anything. I hope Jacinta is not afraid!"

        When his parents began to send him to the Boleiros school, he knew that he would go to Heaven soon anyway. Very often, therefore, instead of going to school, he'd go only as far as the Fatima church. He would say to Lucia: "You go on to school while I stay here in the church. It is not worth my while learning to read, as I will soon be going to Heaven. Call for me on your return."

        Francisco would remain in church the entire school day. He'd go right up to the altar, immediately before the Hidden Jesus in the tabernacle. He would place his arms on the altar. Kneeling, he would adore His Lord and God there present. There, he would console his God. And there, Lucia would find him still at the end of the school day.

        On December 23, 1918, Francisco developed bronchial pneumonia. He said he would go to heaven soon and added: "Oh, when I am there, I will console Jesus and our Lady a great deal!"

    Presence of God experienced in Francisco

    People felt an experience of being in the presence of God when they came near him, especially in his last days upon earth. They experienced something of the supernatural and said that to enter his room was like entering a church.

        After meticulously examining his conscience and making a good confession, Francisco, near death, received Holy Communion from the priest who came to his home. After receiving the Hidden Jesus, he lay for a long time with his eyes shut, making a good thanksgiving. "Today," he said to Jacinta, "I am happier than you are, for I have the Hidden Jesus in my heart!" That was when Jacinta, also very sick, came to his room nearby to her own.

        The evening before he died, Lucia came to see him for a last farewell. She said, "Good-bye, Francisco. If you die during the night, do not forget me up there!"

        "You may rest assured, I will never forget you," and he took hold of her hand and looked at Lucia for a long time with the tears in his eyes.

        "Good-bye then, Francisco, until we meet in Heaven."

        What faith, what love, what depths even children are capable of in the spiritual life. We must never fail in offering children the fullness of true faith or hinder the workings of God in their tender souls.

        And to us in the Apostolate, we can hear Jesus say, "Unless you change, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven."

        I caught an idea of the deep love that remained in Lucia's heart when, at least 20 years ago, I received word that she would like a painting of Francisco from that American artist who had painted another picture. I took the picture to Carmel of Santa Teresa in Coimbra and later when I asked one of the nuns how Sister Lucia liked the painting of Francisco. I received the reply. "The day she received it, all that day she walked around the Monastery holding the painting of Francisco to her heart."

        The Fatima message was given for the whole world. Who were the first to respond to it? The answer is obvious: the three children of Fatima. Had they not responded to it within their own hearts, the message would not be credible to the rest of us. If we hope to be credible apostles of the message, we must first live the message within our own hearts."

    Thursday: The Beatifications Strengthen the Whole Fatima Happening

          

May 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 90
THE FAITH OF THE FATIMA SHEPHERDS


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