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. Throughout May we will be bringing you his articles on the two Fatima shepherds leading up to their beatification and after that, more articles on the Church in Russia since it is so pertinent to Fatima and the fact we are now publishing in Russian. 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 which Fr. Fox edits and publishes, Immaculate Heart Messenger. To order a subscription or to find out about other materials such as the many books and tapes for God's children of all ages 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: 800-721-MARY or 800-213-5541. For the first part of his column on Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima-Youngest children ever to be beatified, see THE FAITH OF THE FATIMA SHEPHERDS
Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima-Youngest children ever to be beatified
Children now have their own special Models as heavenly intercessors. Strikingly there is a model for boys and one for girls. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died at 9 and 11 years of age respectively, were brother and sister.
When they were declared "Venerable" on May 13, 1989, a clarification was given by Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, of the Pontifical Council for the Family, when he came to the annual national Fatima Family Congress in 1989 at the Shrine in Alexandria, SD: "When they are beatified-canonized, it will not be because they saw Our Lady. It will be because of their heroic virtue, their personal holiness." It was Cardinal Gagnon who presented the final results of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to the Pope with recommendation for this first step of recognition by the universal Church. Pope John Paul II, then declared that the children had practiced the theological, cardinal and other virtues to an heroic degree. It gave them the title "Venerable."
The path leading to the beatification was not an easy one. The first step required for the process to be accepted was the decision of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints that it was possible for such small children, even though they had not suffered martyrdom, to have practiced virtue to a heroic degree and so be fitting subjects for canonization. After prolonged study and discussion, it was decided on April 2, 1981, that it is possible for children at such a young age to be capable of heroic virtue. It had to be proven that such heroism is possible for children psychologically and every other way. This decision was important for the Church in modern times of catechetical crisis in the education and formation of children in the fullness of true faith and Christian virtue. Many had claimed that Christianity was only an adult religion and thus profound and even basic education and formation of children was being delayed until later in life in many cases.
Pope John Paul II approved of the decision that heroic virtue in children is possible and conferred on the two little Shepherds the title of "Venerable." While the miracle that opened the way for their beatification took place in 1987, not until 1999 was it finally accepted by the Vatican's Causes for the Saints as miraculous.
The case of the miracle declared scientifically or medically inexplicable was a miraculous cure of a Portuguese lady, Maria Emilia Santos, who in 1946, when she was sixteen years of age, began to suffer rheumatic pains with slight difficulty in walking. Two years later, she had more severe pains in her legs, with impaired movement. She then was unable to walk on account of the intense pains in her lower limbs. She underwent two spine operations and her condition deteriorated considerably with complete immobilization (paraplegia) of the lower limbs. Maria Emilia was forced to lie flat on a hard bed, and was able to do no more than move her head and her hands.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in issuing the Decree Concerning the Miracle after describing the case of Maria Emilia as given above added: "Given the inability of science to do anything to help her after twenty-two years of immobility, the patient placed all her trust in divine help, through the intercession of the Servants of God, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. On March 25, 1987, she suddenly felt heat in her feet and managed to sit up, which she had been quite unable to do for a long time. On February 20, 1989, she was able to stand up and walk for the first time without pain; thereafter she was able to walk normally."
Pope John Paul II, in accordance with the wishes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, ordained that the decree concerning the miracle should be promulgated. The Pope declared: "It is clear that we are dealing with a miracle performed by God through the intercession of the Servants of God Francisco Marto, boy, and Jacinta Marto, girl, namely the rapid, complete and lasting cure of Maria Emilia Santos of a 'paraplegia' probably due to a tranverse myelitis which had lasted 22 years, there being no sign of psychic pathology.' "
According to the International Vice-Postulator for the Cause, during the past 40 years, Father Luis Kondor, SDV, the announcement from the Vatican to beatify, the first step toward sainthood--Jacinta and Francisco, was received by Sister Lucia with "great rejoicing."
According to Fr. Kondor, Postulator, the account of the miracle is as follows: "Maria Emilia Santos, paralyzed for 22 years , had no feeling whatsoever from her waist downwards, but suffered great pain in the upper part of her spine and could only barely move her hands and head. During retreat for the sick in Fatima, she began to have great devotion to the little Shepherds and to make continuous novenas to them. On the night of March 25, 1987, she heard a child's voice saying: 'Sit up because you can.' She sat up at once, without feeling any pain.
"She began to use a wheelchair and continued with her novenas. Some months later, on the anniversary of the death of Jacinta February 20, Maria Emilia Santos stood up and began to walk."
The Curia of Leiria, (Portugal) conducted a diocesan investigation in 1997 concerning the cure, which was deemed to be miraculous. It then had to pass to the Roman Congregation which issued its final decree concerning the miracle on June 28, 1999.
Tomorrow: part two
Today we bring you the Holy Father's Wednesday Papal Audience given at St. Peter's Square this past Wednesday in the Easter Octave in which His Holiness links the Resurrection with the promise of the Transfiguration and the Father's charge to those in attendance "to listen to Him" (cf. Mark 9: 7). The Pope shows how the radiance of Jesus after His Resurrection compares with the radiance shown on Him during the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and gives us a glimpse of what is to come for all souls who listen to Him for God has promised that our bodies will be transformed. For Pope John Paul II's most recent Public Papal Audience address, see THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
During the Easter Feast, these words appear to us in their fullness of truth. The beloved Son of the Father, Christ crucified and dead, has risen for us. In His light we believers see the light and, "raised up by the Spirit," as the liturgy of the Eastern Church affirms, "we sing the consubstantial Trinity for all ages" (Great Vespers of the Transfiguration of Christ). Today, with hearts full of Easter joy, we symbolically climb the holy mountain, which dominates the plain of Galilee, to contemplate the event accomplished there which anticipated the paschal events.
2. Christ is at the center of the Transfiguration. Two witnesses of the First Covenant converse with Him: Moses, mediator of the Law, and Elijah, prophet of the Living God. The Divinity of Christ, proclaimed by the voice of the Father, is also revealed by the symbols that Mark outlines with his picturesque touches. The light and whiteness represent eternity and transcendence: "and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them" (Mark 9:3). Then there is the cloud, the sign of God's presence on the path of Israel's Exodus (cf Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19, 24; 40:34, 38).
Again the Eastern liturgy sings in the Morning Prayer of the Transfiguration: "Oh Word, immutable light of Father's light, in your brilliant light we have today seen on Tabor the light that is the Father and the light that is the Spirit, the light that illumines every creature."
3. This liturgical text underlines the Trinitarian dimension of Christ's Transfiguration on the mountain. It draws out the presence of the Father with His revealing voice. The Christian tradition also sees the implicit presence of the Holy Spirit, in the wake of the parallel event of the Baptism in the Jordan, where the Spirit descended upon Christ like a dove (cf. Mark 1: 10). In fact, the command given by the Father: "Listen to him" (Mark 9:7) presupposes that Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, so that His words may be "spirit and life" (John 6:63; cf 3:34-35).
We may climb the mountain, then, in order to stop, contemplate and be immersed in the mystery of God's light. In Tabor all the mountains that bring us to God are represented, according to an image dear to the mystics. Another text from the Eastern Church invites us to this ascension upward and toward the light: "Come, people, follow me! Let us go up the holy and Heavenly mountain, let us stop spiritually in the city of the Living God, and let us in spirit contemplate the divinity of the Father and the Spirit which resplends in the only begotten Son" (Troparion to the conclusion of the Canon of St. John Damascene).
4. In the Transfiguration we not only contemplate the mystery of God, passing from light to light (cf Psalm 36:10), but we are also invited to hear the divine word addressing us. Beyond the words of the Law of Moses and the prophecy of Elijah, the word of the Father resounds, returning to that of the Son, as I have just mentioned. Presenting His "beloved Son", the Father adds the invitation to listen to Him (cf Mark 9:7).
When commenting on the scene of the Transfiguration, the Second Letter of Peter highlights the importance of the Divine voice. Jesus Christ "received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to Him by the Majestic Glory, saying, 'this is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased!' We ourselves heard this voice come from Heaven, while we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:17-19).
5. Vision and hearing, contemplation and obedience are therefore the paths that bring us to the holy mountain on which the Trinity reveals itself, in the glory of the Son. "The Transfiguration offers us an anticipation of the coming glory of Christ, when 'He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory' (Philippians 3:21). But let us remember also that 'it is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God' (Acts 14:22)" (CCC 556).
The liturgy of the Transfiguration, as the spirituality of the Eastern Church suggests, presents in the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, a human "triad" that contemplates the divine Trinity. Like the three young men in the burning furnace of the Book of Daniel (3:51-20), the liturgy "blesses God the Father Creator, sings the Word come down in their assistance that changes the fire into dew, and exalts the Holy Spirit that gives life to all, for all ages" (Morning Prayer of the Feast of the Transfiguration).
May we also pray to Christ Transfigured with the words of the Canon of St. John Damascene: "You seduced me with desire for You, oh Christ, and You transformed me with Your divine love. Burn my sins with immaterial fire and deign to fill me with Your sweetness until, transported by joy, I exalt in Your manifestations."
Today we continue our series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. We present the second part of the catechesis on The Holy Spirit as explained in My Catholic Faith and an important part of the Nicene Creed and the Dogma of Filioque: "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Who together, with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified." For part two in the 162nd installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
The dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Chuch was first visibly manifested on Pentecost Sunday, when He came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. After the Ascension, the Apostles together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and disciples, men and women, numbering about 120 persons, gathered in the Cenacle, the upper room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper had been taken. There they spent the time in prayer, awaiting the fulfillment of Christ's promise "Wait here in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
Jesus had promised to send the Holy Ghost to the Apostles. He said at the Last Supper: "It is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). On Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles and disciples.
On Pentecost three thousand members were baptized after the preaching of Saint Peter. Many believed, because the Apostles had the "gift of tongues"; that is they spoke in one language, but those of different races who listened heard what was said in their own different languages. We celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost today as Pentecost Sunday, ten days after Ascension Thursday, fifty days after Easter. Pentecost means fifty.
The nine days in the Cenacle while the Apostles and disciples waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit were spent in prayer, the first novena in the Chuch. "All these with one mind continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, and the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14). In imitation of that first novena, it is our custom today to make novenas especially in preparation for great feasts. We also make novenas of petition or thanksgiving as well as the novena of Divine Mercy which we just completed for Divine Mercy Sunday.
The Holy Spirit will dwell in the Church until the end of time. "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth" (John 14: 16-17). The Holy Ghost watches over the Church, protecting it from destruction. From the beginning the Church spread very rapidly. At the death of the Apostles, in spite of persecutions, it was known in all parts of the then civilized world. Thence it has spread to the ends of the earth. Saint Paul could say; "Yes, indeed, their voice has gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:18).
The Holy Ghost gave testimony of Christ, and strengthened the Apostles to give testimony of Christ. Our Lord said, "But when the Advocate has come, Whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness concerning Me. And you also bear witness" (John 15: 26, 27). By His descent, the Holy Ghost proved that all Jesus Christ had said and done was true, that He was indeed the Son of God. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles gave testimony of Christ by going all over the world, (cf. Acts 1:8), preaching and suffering for Christ, meeting death joyfully ( cf. Acts 5:41; Rom. 8:18), saying, "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."
Tomorrow: Sanctifying Grace part one
On this date one year ago before an overflowing crowd in St. Peter's Square, His Holiness John Paul II elevated Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the mystical Capuchin monk who bore the visible stigmata and was beloved by all. Born on May 25, 1887, he passed on to his Heavenly reward on September 23, 1968 and almost immediately after the five year waiting period the cause of this loyal servant, who offered so much suffering for the remission of sins and who placed obedience above all other virtues, was introduced in Rome. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Death of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, Eygpt and Doctor of the Church.
Death of Leonardo da Vinci, master painter extraordinaire known most for his famous "Last Supper" painting.
The Catholic Queen of Scots Mary Stuart escapes from Loch Leven.
Pope John Paul II elevates the mystic Capuchin stigmatist Padre Pio to the rank of Blessed during a moving beatification ceremony before an overflowing crowd in St. Peter's Square.
Historical Events in Church Annals for May 2:
Death of Saint Ultan brother of Saints Fursey and Foillan, all Irish monks. Ultan died at Peronne, Ireland at the monastery where he was abbot.
373 A.D. Death of Saint Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, Eygpt and Doctor of the Church.
1519 A.D. Death of Leonardo da Vinci, master painter extraordinaire known most for his famous "Last Supper" painting.
1568 A.D. The Catholic Queen of Scots Mary Stuart escapes from Loch Leven.
1999 A.D. Pope John Paul II elevates the mystic Capuchin stigmatist Padre Pio to the rank of Blessed during a moving beatification ceremony before an overflowing crowd in St. Peter's Square.