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Appeal To The Heart

Appeal To The Heart

“Almost at the same time, there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden coloured cloud, and soon after a Lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen before, came and placed Herself at the entrance of the opening, above the rose bush. She looked at me immediately, smiled at me and signed to me to advance, as if She had been my Mother.”

– Saint Bernadette Soubirous

There is something very disarming about the Mother of God, something which appeals directly to the heart of the child within each one of us.

From the days which are recounted in the Gospels, the Blessed Virgin is presented as a Woman of humility (choosing to visit and help Elizabeth); of determination and strength of character (asking the help of Her Son even though it was not His time); and of simplicity of words (‘Do whatever He tells you’) and enormous courage – remaining faithfully beneath the Cross upon which Her Son was nailed, whilst almost all of His disciples had scattered in fear.

She is also presented as a Woman of deep and intense prayer, that prayer showing Her sublime relationship with – and trust in – God; Her complate surrender at the moment of the Annunciation is evidence of this. Her beautiful ‘Magnificat’ in St Luke’s Gospel shows us Her deep familiarity with the Scriptures, which it references and reflects so often. Mary is a Woman who is steeped in the very presence of God; Her spirit dwells in His presence, Her Heart is constantly lifted up to Him. And as the Angel Gabriel notes, the Lord is with Her.

It is not real surprise, then, that we are so very fond of Our Lady and that we approach Her in all our needs.

This has also been the experience of those Saints who were blessed to see the Mother of God during their lives.

Saint Catherine Labouré recounted that when the Blessed Virgin visited her for the first time, on the night of 18th July 1830, She sat in the chair used by the Priest, at the front of the sanctuary of the Chapel. Catherine knelt at Her feet, her hands in the lap of the Mother of God – a natural thing for a child to do before her Mother, but also an enormous privilege, for no other soul has been granted this honour of such warm familiarity.

And when appearing to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, the Blessed Virigin ensured She had the appearance of a small and young girl, so as not to frighten Bernadette, who was aged only fourteen at the time.

Similarly, appearing to the three chilldren at Fatima, the first thing She said to them was ‘Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm’.

Our Blessed Lady is always concerned for us and for our needs – material, certainly, but spiritual first and foremost. Her appearances upon the earth are always with this in mind – to call us back to God.

Catholics are greatly fortunate in having always known and loved the Blessed Virgin, even from our childhoods – and this is a great grace we have been given. Many others come to know Her only much later on in life, and often by quite circuitous means. The Blessed Virgin draws souls to Her, for She is illuminated by the very light of Heaven – and in drawing us to Herself, She then fulfils Her primary intention, which is to lead us closer to the Lord.

Not every soul – indeed, not even every Catholic – has a close and warm relationship with the Mother of God. For such souls, we can do two things – live a life in close union with the Blessed Virgin, in the hope of leading by example; and we can pray – because a relationship with the Mother of God is a grace, and it can be obtained through prayer, which obtains so very many graces. We need to pray that those hearts are opened to the possibility of letting that relationship develop, because not every heart is so opened and there are many who misunderstand the role of the Mother of God and the purpose of devotion to Her. And those prayers must always be offered with the greatest charity and the deepest humility, reminding ourselves that if we have been granted this grace, it is through no merit on our part, but purely because the Lord desires it.

This day, may we all give thanks to God for the great grace we have been given in knowing and loving the Blessed Virgin Mary; and by our way of life, may we encourage others to live in union with Her so that She might lead every one of us closer to the Lord.

 

Clothed With The Sun

Clothed With The Sun

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
for, behold,
henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
because He who is mighty has done great things for me
and holy is His name.”

Some of his biographies note that the young Karol Wojtyla worried that his devotion to the Mother of God might risk leading him away from Christ, that he ‘loved Her too much’, as some writers have expressed it. Many years later, writing as Pope John Paul II to the Montfortian religious families, Woytlya noted the fruits of his experience –

“Thanks to St Louis Marie de Montfort, I understood that authentic devotion to the Mother of God is truly Christocentric.”

He was absolutely correct – authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin always leads one to the Lord. That is the entire point of Her existence, on earth and now in the glory of Heaven.

Our Lady Herself makes this very clear in the words of Her beautiful Magnificat, quoted above. When She is praised – She praises God. Everything She has comes from Him, everything She gains is for Him alone. Everything is for His honour and glory, never Her own. What we give to Her, She gives to Him, perfecting it along the way.

Throughout his own writings, the great Marian Apostle, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort made this abundantly clear. Laying out his system of authentic Marian devotion in ‘The Secret of Mary’, Louis writes this –

“It all comes to this, then: that you should find an easy means for obtaining from God the grace necessary to make you holy; and this means I wish to make known to you. Now, I say that to find this grace of God, we must find Mary.” (para.6)

St Louis practised what he preached – and he preached this message tirelessly, to anyone who would listen! Now, he is a canonisd Saint of the Church and his writings are held up and put forth as shining examples of authentic Marian devotion.

The Church has always been very clear about this – Mary is never an end in Herself; rather, She is the means to an end. She is the ship, but not the port – the way, but not the goal; the road, but not the destination.

In his 1967 Apostolic Exhortation ‘Signum Magnum’ (the Great Sign), Pope St Paul VI makes this point clearly when he writes –

“Imitation of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the regal way to be followed to attain sanctity and reproduce in ourselves, according to our forces, the absolute perfection of the heavenly Father. But while the Catholic Church has always proclaimed a truth so sacrosanct, it has also affirmed that imitation of the Virgin Mary, far from distracting the souls from the faithful following of Christ, makes it more pleasant and easier for them.” (SM, part 2:1)

The Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote at length about authentic Marian devotion in the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, ‘Lumen Gentium’ (The Light Of Nations). Writing about the Blessed Virgin and the Church, the Fathers have this to say –

“There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the Apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a redemption for all”.(298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.” (para.60)

Here, then, it is very clearly laid out; everything Mary is and has, comes from God – and returns to Him. By the express will of the Almighty, She occupies this singular and central place in the life of the Church and of the faithful.

The Book of Revelation speaks about the ‘Woman clothed with the Sun’. This Woman is the Blessed Virgin. Now, the Moon, too, is ‘clothed’ with the Sun – in other words, the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. It reflects that light beautifully and clearly, taking nothing away from it nor adding anything to it – it simply reflects it. In reflecting the sunlight, that light is never diminished in any way by the Moon. And so it is with Mary; like the Moon, She reflects the light of the Son – the Son of God.

What, then, is the point of writing all this down?

It is simply this; be devoted to the Mother of God, for it is the will of God Himself, Who gave Her to mankind and through Whom we have the Christ Child. Let your devotion to Her be authentic in the manner laid down by the Church throughout the ages and following the example of so many holy Saints; and be assured that She will lead you ever closer to Her Divine Son – for that is Her sole task.

As the Council Fathers put it –

“This most Holy Synod deliberately teaches this Catholic doctrine and at the same time admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered, and the practices and exercises of piety, recommended by the magisterium of the Church toward her in the course of centuries be made of great moment.. Let the faithful remember moreover that true devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to a filial love toward our mother and to the imitation of her virtues.

The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints, until all families of people, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.” (parae.67 and 69)

Let us, then, have no fear about being properly devoted to the Mother of God, ensuring our devotion is authentic in the way the Church advocates and describes and in the way lived out by the great Saints of the Church.

 

God Grants Graces

God Grants Graces

“Tell everyone that God grants graces
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
and they are to ask Her for them.”

– St Jacinta Marto

Almost two years after the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Jacinta Marto lay very ill in hospital. She had already succumbed to the Spanish Flu which had killed so very many people across the world, including her brother Francisco. She had then developed purulent pleurisy, which caused a large open sore in her chest and would soon lead to the removal of ribs without the benefit of anaesthesia, for fear it would kill her.

Jacinta was not at all concerned by any of this – indeed, she welcomed it with a spirit of heroic detachment, because she was ever mindful of what the Mother of God had told her at the Cova da Iria; that she would go to Heaven ‘soon’. And so Jacinta accepted everything that God was pleased to send her, whether joys or sorrows, sufferings or little acts of kindness from others. And everything, she offered up to God in reparation for poor sinners and for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Jacinta died, aged nine years, on 20 Fenruary 1920 – alone, as she had said she would.

A little while before leaving to go to the hospital, Jacinta had told her cousin, Lucia –

“It won’t be long before I go to Heaven. You are to stay here to make known Our Lord’s desire to establish in the world the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When the time comes to speak, you mustn’t hold back, but tell everybody that God grants graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that we must ask Her for them; that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be honoured together with the Immaculate Heart beccause God has entrusted peace to Her. Oh, if only I could put into everybody’s heart the burning fire I have inside me which makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so much!”

From the time of the apparitions at Fatima, she was consumed by an intense love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a love she desperately wanted others to share in. She was acutely aware of the power of devotion to this Immaculate Heart – it had the power to save souls from Hell, and to raise souls to the heights of sanctity; she herself was a living example of this sanctity. And she knew that the devotion to the Immaculate Heart was the express will of God, Who desired that this devotion be established throughout the world.

Jacinta had said that “God grants graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. And while this could ultimately raise the soul to great sanctity, still those graces begin in lots of little ways. In the case of Jacinta, her brother and her cousin, one change was the frequency of the recitation of the holy Rosary. Whereas they had always prayed it from time to time, from the days of the appearances, they began to pray it communally – just the three of them together – several times each day and always again in the evenings.

Her devotion to the Mother of God led to other changes, too – previously a wilful little girl who could be tempestuous and quite stubborn, her character developed and she was able to overcome herself in many small ways. As time went on, she became more and more detached from everything around her and sought only God and the Blessed Virgin, clinging to Them alone.

Such a path is indeed what we refer to as ‘sanctity’ – and for Jacinta, it was lived to an heroic degree. This is even more astonishing when one considers her very tender age.

God sets the Saints before us as models for the spiritual life. We may never entirely replicate what they have done, for each of us is different and we all walk our own path; but regardless of that, the Saints are our mentors, our teachers. We look to them, read or learn about their lives, we are touched by their story and we emulate what we see in them to be good and true, noble and holy.

Looking at Saint Jacinta Marto, we see that holiness – real, deep and authentic holiness – is possible for everyone. If it is possible for a child aged nine, it is possible for you and for me. How do we achieve it?

In beholding the life of little Jacinta, we see the steps on the path – frequent prayer, especially that of the holy Rosary; the living of the Sacramental life of the Church and faithfulness to that Church and to it’s Shepherd, the Holy Father; humble and docile submission to the will of God in all things, offering up everything for love of Him and in reparation for our sins and the sins of others; and a deep and abiding relationship with the Blessed Virgin and devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

In doing all these things, perhaps we – like Jacinta – will begin to walk that same path of genuine sanctity and discover along the way that God does indeed grant graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

 

Establish This Devotion

Establish This Devotion

“God wishes to establish in the world
the devotion to My Immaculate Heart”

– Our Lady of Fatima

If you ask a child who it feels most close to, there is a very strong likelihood that it will be their mother, unless there are very good reasons to the contrary. There is something deeply intimate about the bond between mother and child, a bond which lasts throughout life. Even in the very elderly, this seems to be retained and those nearing death will often think about, speak about (and even ask for) their mother.

Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine. It should be no suprise, therefore, that His relationship with His own Mother was profoundly deep. He responded immediately to Her requests; He had Her always nearby, from the Crib to the Cross, and beyond; and as He was dying, He shared Her with every single one of us – “Behold Thy Mother”.

And in the heavenly appearances which took place in 1929 and 1932, following the ‘public’ appearances at Fatima in 1917, the Lord spoke in a way that clearly indicated the infinite love He has for His Mother. His comments had to do with the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In Her appearances at Fatima in 1917 – and also in those later appearances – the Blessed Virgin spoke about the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. From the outset, She made it very clear that the establishing of this devotion throughout the world was the express will of God –

“God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart; if what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved..”

And She made it clear what the outcomes of this devotion would be – salvation for many who, otherwise, would not attain it. Without this devotion, such souls would be lost forever.

This fits very well with the words of many Saints over the years who have noted – accurately – that Mary is able to obtain the eternal salvation even of souls whom the Divine Justice would rightly have condemned. The Saints have also noted that whatever the Blessed Virgin asks of God, He grants out of love for Her. What a huge relief that is to us!

Speaking to Sister Lucia in 1932, the Lord told her –

‘Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no-one to make an act of reparation to remove them’

Clearly, offences against the Immaculate Heart of Mary are deeply offensive to Her Son.

Our Blessed Lady then added this, concerning reparation by means of the Five First Saturdays devotion –

“Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.”

This, then, was a devotion specifically intended to make reparation for those offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Later on, Lucia asked the Lord why ‘five’ first Saturdays; He replied –

“Daughter, the motive is simple. There are five kinds of offences and blasphemies spoken against the Immaculate Heart of Mary – against Her Immaculate Conception; against Her perpetual virginity; against Her divine maternity, refusing at the same time to to accept Her as the Mother of mankind; by those who try publicly to implant in the hearts of children an indifference, contempt and even hate for this Immaculate Mother; and for those who insult Her directly in Her sacred images.”

God loves the Blessed Virgin Mary very much indeed. He also loves all of us very much indeed. And He is deeply offended by us whenever we offend Her. And yet, in His infinite mercy, the Almighty provides us with a way to make reparation, whilst potentially saving our souls in the process.

Wonderful though that certainly it, it could be viewed as being driven by a motive of fear – the fear of damnation and Hell. While that is perhaps a good motive for change, it is not the best motive – the best motive is always driven by love.

In this instance, to be driven by love means to look upon the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, surrounded by those piercing thorns, and to feel compassion for this most tender Heart – and to desire to do whatever we can to remove those thorns. And we desire this not only from ourselves but from others – and for them as much as for ourselves.

And so, we now have some very good reasons for loving the Immaculate Heart of Mary –

  • She loves us. She is our heavenly Mother and She deserves to be loved.
  • God desires that we do so, for He also loves Her.
  • He wishes us to make reparation to Her Immaculate Heart for sins – our own, and those of others.
  • In doing so, we may well attain salvation even if Justice would have otherwise condemned us.
  • In this way, we can help attain salvation for others, too.

There is also one further reason.

The more we love the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we encourage others to love Her also. And as more and more of us love Her, listen to Her and respond whole-heartedly to Her requests, so we help to bring about what She has promised –

“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

 

 

Fatima and the Eucharist

Fatima and the Eucharist

“This is My Body, given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.”

– Luke 22:19

The Eucharist is the beating heart of the faith we profess. It is a living heart, for it is Christ Himself, Who remains with us and with the Church sacramentally, truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Eucharist is Christ among us.

The Church tells us this about the Eucharist –

“At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.1323)

And so it should be no real surprise that at Fatima, which has been called ‘the altar of the World’, the Eucharist was central.

Now, this may seem at odds with your general impression of Fatima – was it not about the Mother of God? Was it not about secrets? Was it not about the Rosary? Yes, it was these things; but above all else, it was about the Eucharist.

Let me explain.

Prior to the appearances of Our Blessed Lady, the Angel visited the children one year beforehand. He appeared three times and gave the children a profound catechesis of the Faith. At the first angelic appearance, around the Spring of 1916, the Angel invited the children to pray; bowing with his forehead touching the ground in a gesture of great reverance toward God, he taught them this prayer –

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You; I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”

And so this prayer contained two elements – faith and reparation. This was the first lesson of the catechesis – God exists, and our sins offend Him, so that His divine justice demands reparation.

The Angel then told them – “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications”.

These words added to the Catechesis – God desires and accepts the prayerful reparation of one soul on behalf of another.

Lucia would later write about the effects of this first apparition, which was profound on the three children and which left them enveloped in the very real sense of the supernatural, so much so that they were almost unable to speak with each other about what they had experienced.

The second angelic appearance took place a few months later, in the summertime of 1916. Finding the children playing the Angel asked them – “What are you doing? Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High!”.

The catechesis was continuing – God should be our first consideration, and we express this through prayer in the first instance. Prayer should be very important to us, a bridge to God which we cross often. It is interesting, too, that from the very first moments of the events of Fatima, there is an explicit focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which were spoken about by the Angel during both apparitions. Asking the Angel how they were to do all this, he replied –

“Make of everything you can a scarifice, and offer it to God for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.”

This elaborates further on the catechesis. There are innumerable opportunities for us to pray and offer sacrifices, and we should do this firstly to ask pardon for the offences against God, Whhose justice is offended; and secondly, to repair for the sins of humanity. But even more than these opportunities which we are asked to seek out for ourselves, we are asked to be submissive in all things to the will of God, to humbly accept whatever He deigns to send us, especially suffering.

How all this flies in the face of what the world tells us!

In the same way that little children make long preparations prior to receiving their First Holy Communion, so these first two visits of the Angel were a heavenly preparation for what was to follow next, at the third apparition.

Returing a final time in the autumn of 1916, the Angel appeared above the children, and in his hands he held a Chalice, with the Eucharist above it – drops of Blood were falling from the Host into the Chalice. Leaving the Host and Chalice suspended in the air, the Angel came and knelt beside the children, and then all four bowed deeply before the Eucharist, their heads touching the ground. The Angel then taught them another prayer –

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; I adore You profoundly and I offer You 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 with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

This last prayer teaches us that the three Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity deserve and desire that we make reparation to Them for the sins of humanity – and the most perfect means of doing so is through the Eucharist, the very means given us by Christ as a perpetuation of His sacrifice on the Cross, that greatest and most perfect act of reparation to God on behalf of humanity.

This was the culmination and ultimate purpose of the Angelic appearances – the catechesis of these three children (and, through them and their account of it, our own catechesis), all serving to prepare them for what would happen next. The groundwork was now done and the children were ready to shortly meet the Mother of God in the Cova da Iria. There, She would explain more.

During the first appearance of Our Lady, on 13th May 1917, the beautiful Lady from Heaven communicated to the children a heavenly light which penetrated their souls and left them with an impulse to pray this prayer –

“O Most Holy Trinity, I adore You; my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament”.

The catechesis was continuing. The date of this first appearance was itself also a sign – at that time, 13th May was the feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

At Her third appearance, in July 1917, the Lady asked the children to “sacrifice yourselves for sinners” and then immediately showed them a brief vision of Hell. Hell is the final outcome “for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love” God. It is not God Who condemns to Hell, but the soul itself – every choice we make in life leads us either closer to our further away from Heaven, which is eternal life in the Presence of God. And so Hell is simply the eventual outcome of our choices in life; for the soul standing before the Almighty at then moment of Judgement, this is clear to the soul, who realises it has already – in life – made it’s choice. All the Angel and the Lady had taught the children so far confirmed this.

This was the moment when the Lady announced God’s desire to save sinners by means of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, promising to save many souls by this means. This devotion would take two forms – a Consecration made by the Holy Father on behalf of the entire Church, and a devotion She called the ‘Communions of Reparation’ (we often refer to it now as ‘the Five First Saturdays’), to be made by every one of us. The Communions of Reparation involve prayer, devotion, acts of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and – above all – the offering of Holy Communion for these intentions; it is the very real expression of that earlier prayer directed to the Holy Trinity.

At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin had told Lucia She would return later to request these Communions of Reparation – and in Dececmber 1925, She did so. Appearing once more to Lucia, the Mother of God was accompanied by Her Son in the form of a young Child, elevated on a cloud. Our Lady was holding Her Immaculate Heart. The Christ Child said –

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no-one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”

Our Lady then spoke –

“Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.”

The required and requested form of the participation of the faithful had been given.

Building on all the catechesis that had already been given by the Angel and by the Mother of God, we had learned how we can participate in responding to the Message of Fatima. That only left what was to be asked specifically of the Church.

Our Lady would return to Lucia in June 1929 to request of the Church the Consecration She had mentioned in 1917.

Lucia was given a vision of the Most Holy Trinity, with the Lord nailed to the Cross, the Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit above the Cross; to the right stood Our Lady as She had appeared at Fatima, holding Her Immaculate Heart. In the air next to the Lord was a Host, dripping Blood into a Chalice suspended beneath it. At the other side of the Cross, suspended in the air, the words “Graces and Mercy” appeared as though formed from crystal clear water. Our Lady then spoke –

“The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I have come to ask for reparation; sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

 And this requested Consecration would be made, finally, in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.

The Church, then, had done what was asked of her.

And so that leaves each and every one of us.

We are asked, as much as the Church herself was asked, to respond whole-heartedly to the messages of the Angel and the requests of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. It is a message of belief in God, of the recognition of our sinfulness and our associated need to make reparation, through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by means of prayer, the joyful acceptance and offering-up of suffering, and by the practice of the Communions of Reparation, the ‘Five First Saturdays’.

And as we have now seen, all of this is focussed very explicitly on the Eucharist, the beating heart of our Church and of our faith.

 

 

The Woman and the Globe

The Woman and the Globe

“In Her hands, raised to the level of Her breast, She held a globe .. Her face was totally beautiful – I could not describe it.. At that moment, as I contemplated Her, the Blessed Virgin lowered Her eyes to look at me and an interior voice said – ‘This globe which you see represents the entire world’..”

– Saint Catherine Labouré

In November of 1830, the young Saint Catherine Labouré saw the Blessed Virgin Mary for the second time in the convent on the Rue du Bac in Paris.

 Statue of ‘the Virgin of the Globe’ on the spot where She appeared to St Catherine on 27 November 1830, on the Rue du Bac, Paris.

This vision began with the Blessed Virgin holding in Her hands a globe which She raised to Heaven, toward God – the symbolism being that Her concern is for every person upon this globe on which we live, and that She intercedes for all of us. The vision changed and Catherine saw the Immaculate One with the globe of the world now at Her feet, rays of heavenly light streaming down upon the earth from jewelled rings on Her hands. It is this second part of the vision which is now depicted on the Miraculous Medal – but it was actually the first part which the Mother of God asked to have decpited on the Medal. (Be that as it may, the ability of engravers at that time was far more limited than it is now, and they found great difficulty in doing as had been requested, the latter part of the vision proving somewhat easier, even though those first resulting Medals had a quite ‘flat’ appearance.)

Appearing eighty seven years later to three little children at Fatima in Portugal, the Blessed Virgin once again depicted Herself with a globe. On this occasion, it was in the form of a pendant on a golden cord around Her neck, nestling close to Her Immaculate Heart.

There is a clear connection between these two events and the common motif of the globe representing the entire world.

In Paris, the Mother of God was pleading for the world before the Almighty, interceding for us, before obtaining and distributing a myriad of graces, which were shown to Catherine as rays of brilliant light streaming from the hands of the Blessed Virgin. Note that She distributed those graces as and where She pleased.

At Fatima, She called the world back to the Almighty, for it was already clear that we were in need of being called back; She even gave us particular ways of making our return to Him, such as the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart and the Five First Saturdays, as well as the daily recitation of the holy Rosary. Above all else, She reminded us of the centrality of devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – after all, the best way to come back to Him is through the very Sacrament by which He comes to us and remains with us.

This globe, in the hands of the Mother of God in Paris and close to Her Immaculate Heart in Fatima, symbolises a deep truth of our Faith – the Mother of God loves us immensely and, no matter how far we go from Her Son by our indifference, our waywardness, our sinfulness, Her love for us does not change.

This globe, as the She said to Saint Catherine, “represents the entire world” and every person upon it. She loves us all in our common humanity – and She also loves every single one of us individually.

We could ask for no sweeter consolation than to know that the Blessed Virgin Mary loves us with the love of a true Mother.

Let us, then, go to Her confidently in all our needs, certain that as surely as She lifts the entire globe to the Father in Heaven, so She lifts up our own intentions and intercedes for us.