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.
Beatifications to be in FatimaIt was first announced by the Vatican that the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto would take place April 9, 2000, at Rome. Later on November 28, 1999, it was announced the date and place had been changed to May 13, 2000, at Fatima. There is great significance in these acts and change. The Pope's first decision to beatify at Rome indicated the universal significance he sees in the message of Fatima and the role models of Jacinta and Francisco for children of the entire world. The image of Our Lady of Fatima, as described by Lucia, always shows her with a golden ball at her waist, representative that the Fatima message is for the world.
Pope John Paul II regards the Jubilee Year 2000 as ideal for pilgrimages. It was first determined that for the Jubilee the Pope would travel only to sites significant in Biblical salvation history. It was said that the Holy Father would not undertake the normal international pastoral trips that have characterized his pontificate. He has scheduled four "biblical" pilgrimages outside Rome: Iraq, where he was to visit Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's birthplace (moved to Paul VI Hall because of Saddam Hussein's failure to assure security); Egypt, to Sinai, scene of the dialogue between God and Moses; the Holy Land, including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem this past March. Also he has scheduled Syria, to visit Damascus and follow in St. Paul's footsteps if it is possible.
Since the Pope's trips outside of Italy for the Great Jubilee 2000 were scheduled to be limited only to places of biblical revelation, it came as a surprise, a November 28, 1999, announcement, making an exception. The Pope announced he would go also to Fatima, where Our Lady appeared to three young shepherds in 1917. Each Pope since 1930 had said, "Fatima is a reaffirmation of the Gospels." Now, Fatima would be the only Jubilee pilgrimage outside of Rome not traced back to ancient Biblical sites.
Bullet from the Pope now in Fatima's CrownSister Lucia, a Carmelite nun, 93 years of age, residing in St. Therese's Monastery in Leiria will get her desire to be present at the beatifications. The date chosen for the beatification, is May 13, 2000, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and the anniversary of the 1981 attempt against the Pope's life in St. Peter's Square by Turk Ali Agca. The Bishop of Rome has attributed his life after the attack to the intercession of Our Lady. The bullet from the attack is now encrusted into the Cova da Iria's crown of the miraculous statue of the Virgin of Fatima at the Holy Father's request. That special crown is placed on the statue only for the solemn anniversaries of May 12-13, May through October each year.
The extraordinary tie that unites Pope John Paul II to the Virgin of Fatima is seen in a further event which His Holiness has scheduled for the Jubilee Year 2000. For October 7 and 8, Feast of the Holy Rosary, the miraculous Fatima statue will be brought from the Cova da Iria at Fatima to Rome. On the occasion the Pope will recite the Rosary with his brother bishops and solemnly consecrate the Church and the world to Our Lady for the Third Millennium.
Children willing to face martyrdomThe children of Fatima proved their heroic virtue when on July 13, 1917, the Administrator took them to jail, threatening them with death in boiling oil if they did not tell the secret received from our Lady. Each refused while thinking they would thus be killed. Their penances regarding food, drink, and various physical afflictions- all for the conversion of sinners-and in reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, manifest their heroic virtue.
The long hours of prayer, heads to the ground, adoring the Most Holy Trinity, to whom they offered the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world and in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which God is offended-was another testimony of their heroic virtues. Their sense of Eucharistic Reparation was profound and each longed to be near their Eucharistic Lord. Their souls were overwhelmed with sorrows at souls falling into hell with no one to pray or make sacrifices for them. Thus the children sacrificed to save as many possible.
Our Lady had said that Francisco must pray many Rosaries before entering heaven. His reply was, "I will say as many Rosaries as Our Lady desires." Thereafter, he was seen almost constantly with the Rosary.
Francisco was given especially to contemplation of God who was so sorrowful for the sins of mankind. Jacinta was especially drawn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and according to Lucia, was given a special depth of insight into what is meant by devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the salvation of souls.
Bishop Albert Amaral of Leiria-Fatima, in a homily on February 20, 1986, anniversary of her death, once said: "this child is for us a tremendous challenge. Faced with the heroicity of this child, I feel uneasy about my mediocrity, my cowardice and conveniences, my lack of generosity. …Let us ask her to intercede for us with God, with Our Lady, that we may be faithful to our vocation of holiness in Christ, in the Church and in the world…"
Bishop Amaral quoted the doctor who operated on Jacinta in the D. Estefania Hospital in Lisbon shortly before her death. The doctor spoke of the seriously painful operation, as "Jacinta had already passed through great suffering with this illness before coming to the hospital and also during the days before the operation. Then she did not have a general anaesthetic; a local anaesthetic in inflamed tissue causes much greater suffering. The operation was a slow process…I got the impression that this child had great courage…The only words which I heard her saying during the operation were: "Oh! my Jesus! Oh, my God!" The doctor spoke of Jacinta's patience as "absolutely heroic."
Francisco focused on the EucharistFrancisco did not bother going to school when the other children did, since Our Lady has said he would be taken to Heaven soon. Instead, when Lucia left for school Francisco would go to the Church where he spent the day before the Most Blessed Sacrament, drawing as close to the tabernacle as he could. Then, when Lucia returned from school at the day's close, she would find him before the Most Blessed Sacrament. A good natured boy who loved nature itself with its animals, never asserted his rights but was willing to gently give in to others.
Transformation after Vision of HellThe great transformation of Jacinta and Francisco began to take place especially after they were shown the terrible vision of hell "where the souls of poor sinners go." The vision of hell was so terrible that Lucia felt they would have died of fright on the spot had they not each been promised Heaven.
The little Shepherds who had Our Lady as a Catechist learned well that without the cross there is no redemption. To suffer to save souls from the fires of hell, to suffer in order to console God who is so offended, was the ideal in the lives of Jacinta and Francisco.
To the heresy of modern times that would say "Jesus Christ, yes, the Church, no," the little Shepherds can teach modern children well. Francisco understood deeply that without the Church there could be no "Hidden Jesus" as the children called the Holy Eucharist. Jacinta's sacrifices and prayers were offered for the Holy Father. She added three Hail Mary's to each Rosary for the Pope.
The modern tendency to put emphasis on activity while forgetting to learn how to pray or take time to pray finds an answer in the little Shepherds of Fatima. They took to heart the message: "Pray the Rosary every day!" Their first petition to the beautiful Lady from heaven was: "We want to ask you to take us to Heaven."
In the Church in the modern world, where many have forgotten penance and reparation, today's children (and adults) can learn from Jacinta and Francisco what reparation and sacrifice are, and how to pray.
May these youngest of children to be raised to the altars inspire the young children of the world to deep faith, love, reparation, union with God and yearning for Heaven.
Tomorrow: The Spirituality of Jacinta part one
May 3, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 86
APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
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