Pope Francis: A shepherd must freely follow the Spirit

Image result for good shepherd

.- Pope Francis on Tuesday urged priests and bishops not to be afraid to “step down completely” from their assignment when they are called to a new duty.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take,” he said during his homily May 30 at the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

The shepherd must “be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position,” he said.

In the first reading of the Mass, St. Paul addresses the Church leaders in Ephesus. The Pope said Paul left the Ephesus to go to Jerusalem, following the Holy Spirit’s call.

The Pope highlighted what he called the three “apostolic attitudes” demonstrated by St. Paul during a council with the priests of Ephesus, and he urged the faithful to pray that priests, bishops, and the Pope would live their lives accordingly.

The first attitude involves never turning back, and guiding the Church without compromise.

The second is obedience to the Spirit and the recognition that the life of a shepherd is a “journey,” always open to the voice of God.

St. Paul left Ephesus “because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them … this is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude involves the acknowledgement that “I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant.”

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops,” Pope Francis exhorted. “Let us pray for our shepherds.”

Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-a-shepherd-must-freely-follow-the-spirit-34251/


Pope Francis celebrates the feast of the Ascension

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Regina Coeli prayer - AFP

Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square during the Regina Coeli prayer – AFP

28/05/2017 15:15
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the feast of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter.
Speaking to the faithful present in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli prayer, the Pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Matthew which presents us with the moment of the definitive departure of the Risen Lord from his disciples.
The scene, he said, is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow him and form the first nucleus of his new community. The disciples have gone through the “fire” of the Passion and Resurrection, and at the sight of the risen Lord, they bow down to him. Some of them however are still doubtful.  It is to this frightened community, the Pope said, that Jesus leaves the immense task of evangelizing the world. He gives them this assignment ordering them to teach and to baptize in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis said the ascension of Jesus to heaven represents the end of the Son’s mission and the beginning of the continuation of this mission by the Church.
From this moment, he pointed out, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in Him and announce Him. This mission, the Pope continued, will last until the end of history thanks to the daily assistance of the Risen Lord, who assures us that: “I am with you every day until the end of the world”.
The Pope said His presence gives strength to those who are persecuted, it gives comfort to those who are suffering, and it gives support to those in difficult situations.
The Ascension, he said, reminds us of Jesus’ help and of His Spirit in whom we can trust as we offer our Christian witness to the world. It explains to us why the Church exists: the Church exists in order to proclaim the Gospel.
And let us not forget, Pope Francis said, the joy of the Church in proclaiming the Gospel. He said that the Church is all baptized Christians and today we are invited to better understand better that God has given us great dignity and the responsibility of announce its message to the world, of making it accessible to humanity.
On this Ascension Day, the Pope said, as we turn our gaze to heaven, where Christ ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, let us be strong, enthusiastic and courageous in our earthly journey, in our mission of witnessing and living the Gospel in every place.
We must be aware however, he continued, that this does not depend solely on our own strength, organizational skills and resources; only with the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit will we be able to effectively fulfill our mission of spreading Jesus’ love and tenderness.
Pope Francis concluded asking the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly goo0ds which the Lord promises us, and become credible witnesses of his Resurrection, of true Life.

Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/05/28/pope_francis_celebrates_the_feast_of_the_ascension/1315358

The Devil’s Anti-Kingdom, based on lies



 Damien F. Mackey


“He who holds the entire world under his sway, instead dominates through lies. Jesus says of Satan: ‘He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’ [John 8, 44]”.

Cardinal Caffarra



Cardinal Carlo Caffarra gave this talk at the Rome Life Forum on May 19, 2017.

It is a perfect illustration of Satan as the ‘ape of God’.



ROME, May 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” [John 12, 32]. “The whole world is under the power of the Evil One” [1 John, 5, 19].


Reading these divine words gives us perfect awareness of what is really happening in the world, within the human story, considered in its depths. The human story is a confrontation between two forces: the force of attraction, whose source is in the wounded Heart of the Crucified-Risen One, and the power of Satan, who does not want to be ousted from his kingdom.


The area in which the confrontation takes place is the human heart, it is human liberty. And the confrontation has two dimensions: an interior dimension and an exterior dimension. We will briefly consider the one and the other.


  1. At the trial before Pilate, the Governor asks Jesus whether he is a king; whether – which is the meaning of Pilate’s question – he has true and sovereign political power over a given territory.

Jesus responds: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” [John 18, 37].

“Jesus wants us to understand that his kingship is not that of the kings of this world, but consists of the obedience of his subjects to his word, to his truth. Although He reigns over his subjects, it is not through force or power, but through the truth of which he is witness, which “all who are from the truth” receive with faith” [I. De La Potterie].

Thomas Aquinas puts the following words into the mouth of the Saviour: “As I myself manifest truth, so I am preparing a kingdom for myself”. Jesus on the Cross attracts everyone to Himself, because it is on the Cross that the Truth of which he is witness is resplendent.

Yet this force of attraction can only take effect on those who “are from the truth”. That is, on those who are profoundly available to the Truth, who love truth, who live in familiarity with it. Pascal writes: “You would not seek me if you had not already found me”.

He who holds the entire world under his sway, instead dominates through lies. Jesus says of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies [John 8, 44].

The wording is dramatic. The first proposition – “He was a murderer from the beginning” – is explained by the second: “and he does not stand in the truth”. The murder which the devil performs consists in his not standing in the truth, not dwelling in the truth.

It is murder, because he is seeking to extinguish, to kill in the heart of man truth, the desire for truth. By inducing man to unbelief, he wants man to close himself to the light of the Divine Revelation, which is the Word incarnate. Therefore, these words of Jesus on Satan – as today the majority of exegetes believe – do not speak of the fall of the angels. They speak of something far more profound, something frightful: Satan constantly refuses the truth, and his action within human society consists in opposition to the truth. Satan is this refusal; he is this opposition.

The text continues: “because there is no truth in him”.

The words of Jesus go to the deepest root of Satan’s work. He is in himself a lie. From his person truth is completely absent, and hence he is by definition the one who opposes truth. Jesus adds immediately afterwards: “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. When the Lord says “speaks according to his own nature”, he introduces us to the interiority of Satan, to his heart. A heart which lives in darkness, in shadows: a house without doors and without windows.

To summarise, this therefore is what is happening in the heart of man: Jesus, the Revelation of the Father, exerts a strong attraction to Himself. Satan works against this, to neutralise the attractive force of the Crucified-Risen One. The force of truth which makes us free acts on the heart of man. It is the Satanic force of the lie which makes slaves of us.

Yet, not being pure spirit, the human person is not solely interiority. Human interiority is expressed and manifested in construction of the society in which he or she lives. Human interiority is expressed and manifested in culture, as an essential dimension of human life as such. Culture is the mode of living which is specifically human.

Given that man is positioned between two opposing forces, the condition in which he finds himself must necessarily give rise to two cultures: the culture of the truth and the culture of the lie.

There is a book in Holy Scripture, the last, the Apocalypse, which describes the final confrontation between the two kingdoms. In this book, the attraction of Christ takes the form of triumph over enemy powers commanded by Satan. It is a triumph which comes after lengthy combat. The first fruits of the victory are the martyrs. “The great Dragon, serpent of the primal age, he whom we call the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was flung down to earth… But they [= the martyrs] overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony of their martyrdom” [cfr. Ap. 12, 9.11].


  1. In this second section, I would like to respond to the following question: in our Western culture, are there developments which reveal with particular clarity the confrontation between the attraction exerted over man by the Crucified-Risen One, and the culture of the lie constructed by Satan? My response is affirmative, and there are two developments in particular.

The first development is the transformation of a crime [termed by Vatican Council II nefandum crimen], abortion, into a right. Note well: I am not speaking of abortion as an act perpetrated by one person. I am speaking of the broader legitimation which can be perpetrated by a judicial system in a single act: to subsume it into the category of the subjective right, which is an ethical category. This signifies calling what is good, evil, what is light, shadow. “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. This is an attempt to produce an “anti-Revelation”.

What in fact is the logic which presides over the ennoblement of abortion?

Firstly, it is the profoundest negation of the truth of man. As soon as Noah left the floodwaters, God said: “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall that person’s blood be shed, for in his own image God made man” [Gen. 9, 6].

The reason why man should not shed the blood of man is that man is the image of God. Through man, God dwells in His creation. This creation is the temple of the Lord, because man inhabits it. To violate the intangibility of the human person is a sacrilegious act against the Sanctity of God. It is the Satanic attempt to generate an “anti-creation”.

By ennobling the killing of humans, Satan has laid the foundations for his “creation”: to remove from creation the image of God, to obscure his presence therein.

St Ambrose writes: “The creation of the world was completed with formation of the masterpiece which is man, which… is in fact the culmination of creation, the supreme beauty of every created being” [Exam., Sixth day, Disc 9, 10.75; BA I, page 417]. At the moment at which the right of man to order the life and the death of another man is affirmed, God is expelled from his creation, because his original presence is denied, and his original dwelling-place within creation – the human person – is desecrated.

The second development is the ennoblement of homosexuality. This in fact denies entirely the truth of marriage, the mind of God the Creator with regard to marriage.

The Divine Revelation has told us how God thinks of marriage: the lawful union of a man and woman, the source of life. In the mind of God, marriage has a permanent structure, based on the duality of the human mode of being: femininity and masculinity. Not two opposite poles, but the one with and for the other. Only thus does man escape his original solitude.

One of the fundamental laws through which God governs the universe is that He does not act alone. This is the law of human cooperation with the divine governance. The union between a man and woman, who become one flesh, is human cooperation in the creative act of God: every human person is created by God and begotten by its parents. God celebrates the liturgy of his creative act in the holy temple of conjugal love.

In summary. There are two pillars of creation: the human person in its irreducibility to the material universe, and the conjugal union between a man and woman, the place in which God creates new human persons “in His image and likeness”. The axiological elevation of abortion to a subjective right is the demolition of the first pillar. The ennoblement of a homosexual relationship, when equated to marriage, is the destruction of the second pillar.

At the root of this is the work of Satan, who wants to build an actual anti-creation. This is the ultimate and terrible challenge which Satan is hurling at God. “I am demonstrating to you that I am capable of constructing an alternative to your creation. And man will say: it is better in the alternative creation than in your creation”.

This is the frightful strategy of the lie, constructed around a profound contempt for man. Man is not capable of elevating himself to the splendour of the Truth. He is not capable of living within the paradox of an infinite desire for happiness. He is not able to find himself in the sincere gift of himself. And therefore – continues the Satanic discourse – we tell him banalities about man. We convince him that the Truth does not exist and that his search is therefore a sad and futile passion. We persuade him to shorten the measure of his desire in line with the measure of the transient moment. We place in his heart the suspicion that love is merely a mask of pleasure.

The Grand Inquisitor of Dostoevsky speaks thus to Jesus: “You judge of men too highly, for though rebels they be, they are born slaves …. I swear to you that man is weaker and lower than You have ever imagined him to be! Man is weak and cowardly.”

How should we dwell in this situation? In the third and final section of my reflection, I will seek to answer this question.

The reply is simple: within the confrontation between creation and anti-creation, we are called upon to TESTIFY. This testimony is our mode of being in the world.

The New Testament has an abundantly rich doctrine on this matter. I must confine myself to an indication of the three fundamental meanings which constitute testimony.

Testimony means to say, to speak, to announce openly and publicly. Someone who does not testify in this way is like a soldier who flees at the decisive moment in a battle. We are no longer witnesses, but deserters, if we do not speak openly and publicly. The March for Life is therefore a great testimony.

Testimony means to say, to announce openly and publicly the divine Revelation, which involves the original evidence, discoverable only by reason, rightfully used. And to speak in particular of the Gospel of Life and Marriage.

Testimony means to say, to announce openly and publicly the Gospel of Life and Marriage as if in a trial [cfr. John 16, 8-11]. I will explain myself. I have spoken frequently of a confrontation. This confrontation is increasingly assuming the appearance of a trial, of a legal proceeding, in which the defendant is Jesus and his Gospel. As in every legal proceeding, there are also witnesses in favour: in favour of Jesus and his Gospel.

Announcement of the Gospel of Marriage and of Life today takes place in a context of hostility, of challenge, of unbelief. The alternative is one of two options: either one remains silent on the Gospel, or one says something else. Obviously, what I have said should not be interpreted as meaning that Christians should render themselves… antipathetic to everyone.

St Thomas writes: “It is the same thing, when faced with two contraries, to pursue the one and reject the other. Medicine, for example, proposes the cure while excluding the illness. Hence, it belongs to the wise man to meditate on the truth, in particular with regard to the First Principle …and to refute the opposing falsehood.” [CG Book I, Chapter I, no. 6].

In the context of testimony to the Gospel, irenics and concordism must be excluded. On this Jesus has been explicit. It would be a terrible doctor who adopted an irenical attitude towards the disease.

Augustine writes: “Love the sinner, but persecute the sin”. Note this well. The Latin word per-sequor is an intensifying verb. The meaning therefore is: “Hunt down the sin. Track it down in the hidden places of its lies, and condemn it, bringing to light its insubstantiality”.

I CONCLUDE with a quotation from a great confessor of the faith, the Russian Pavel A. Florenskij. “Christ is witness, in the extreme sense of the word, THE WITNESS.

At His crucifixion, the Jews and Romans believed they were only witnessing a historical event, but the event revealed itself as the Truth”. [The philosophy of religion, San Paolo ed., Milan 2017, page 512].



Years ago, from her convent, Sr. Lucia wrote a letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, saying:

“Do not be afraid … Our Lady has already crushed his head.”


Archbishop’s Prayer of Consecration for Fatima Anniversary

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
12 May 2017

Archbishop Fisher’s Prayer of Consecration for the Fatima Anniversary

The Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP has written a prayer of consecration to Our Lady on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
Archbishop Fisher has invited all to join in prayer for this important milestone as the Church worldwide marks 100 years since Our Lady’s miraculous appearances at Fatima to three Portuguese children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Pope Francis is travelling to Fatima this weekend, he told a general audience on Wednesday, “to place humanity’s destiny at the feet of the Virgin Mary, as well as the destiny of each individual”.  He will pray at the location where the apparitions took place, participate in a rosary candlelight prayer vigil and also canonise two of the young visionaries.

Archbishop Fisher noted the alignment of Mothers’ Day on the same weekend which fittingly allows us to be grateful to God for the gift of motherhood.
“It’s a very happy coincidence that this weekend, we have the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and Mothers’ Day together,” said Archbishop Fisher.

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the children of Fatima to whom Our Lady appeared

“If our Fatima Day draws attention to our heavenly Mother, who comes to us with her lessons of childlike humility, our Mothers’ Day holiday draws our attention to the loving mothers who brought each of us into the world and nurtured us in faith and life.

“New Age spiritualities might tell us to hug trees and worship Mother earth, but between our heavenly mother and our earthly ones we have more than enough genuine motherhood to inspire and support us”.
On 13 May, Archbishop Anthony Fisher will celebrate a special mass in St Mary’s Cathedral to commemorate this occasion. There will be a procession at 11.30am and Mass will be celebrated at 12.10pm.
Across the Archdiocese many parishes will be celebrating the Fatima anniversary with Masses, prayer vigils and processions.

Consecration Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima
by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, and tender Mother of humanity,
in accordance with your ardent wish made known at Fatima, I consecrate to you myself,
my brothers and sisters of the Archdiocese of Sydney, and the whole human race.
We commit to you all the members of this local Church, beginning with the weakest ones,
from the unborn to the sick, the disabled and the elderly.
We commit to you our families, our children, our young people, the single, the widowed and the lonely.
We entrust to your Immaculate Heart especially hurt and broken families,
for those who seek the meaning of life but who are getting lost in a world of confusion, immoral influences, and distorted ideas.
Reign over us and teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph
in us and around us, as it has reigned and triumphed in you!
Reign over us, dearest Mother, that we may be your children in prosperity and in adversity,
in joy and in sorrow, in health and sickness, in life and in death!
O most compassionate Heart of Mary, Queen of Virgins, watch over our minds and hearts,
and preserve them from the deluge of impurity which you lamented  so sorrowfully at Fatima.
We want to be pure like you. We want to atone for the many crimes committed against Jesus and you.
We want to call down upon our city, our country and the whole world the peace of God in justice and charity!
Help us as we resolve to live according to the Gospel, to fulfil the Commandments of God and those of the Church,
to receive the sacraments worthily, especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist,
and to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of your divine Son,  in union with his most Sacred Heart.


Pope Francis reflects on Mary Magdalene at General Audience

 Francesco Hayez - Crucifixion with Mary Magdalene kneeling and weeping (1827)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on “Christian Hope” at his General Audience on Wednesday, focusing this week on the figure of St Mary Magdalene.
The Holy Father’s reflections were based on a passage from the Gospel of St John, which relates how St Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus after His Resurrection. Her visit to Jesus’s tomb, the Pope said, mirrored “the fidelity of so many women” who visit cemeteries to keep alive the memory of those who have passed away. “The most authentic bonds,” he said, “are not broken even by death.”
Pope Francis noted that Mary Magdalene’s first visit to the tomb was a disappointment: Seeing the empty tomb, she went to the place the disciples were hiding and told them that someone had stolen the body of Jesus.
But although she was sorrowful, she returned to the sepulchre. The Pope continued, “It was while she was standing near the tomb, with eyes filled with tears, that God surprised her in a most unexpected way.” She hardly noticed the two angels who spoke to her, and at first she did not even recognise Jesus, whom she took to be a gardener. Instead, Pope Francis said, “she discovers the most shocking event in human history” only when Jesus “calls her by name.”
“How beautiful it is to think that the first apparition of the Risen One – according to the Gospels – should occur in such a personal way!” the Pope said. How beautiful it is “that there is someone who recognizes us, who sees our suffering and disappointment, and is moved for our sake, and calls us by name.” Although many people seek God, he said, the “wonderful reality” is that God has sought us first, and sought each of us personally. “Each one of us,” Pope Francis said, “is a story of the love of God. God calls each of us by name.”
When Jesus said Mary’s name, her life was changed. “The Gospels describe Mary’s happiness for us,” the Holy Father said. “The Resurrection of Jesus is not a joy given with an eyedropper, but a cascade, a waterfall that fills our whole life.” Pope Francis called for everyone to reflect on that fact that, even with all the “disappointments and defeats” in our life, “there is a God who is close to us and who calls us by name, who says to us, ‘Arise, don’t cry, because I have come to set you free.’”
God, he continued, “is a dreamer: He dreams of the transformation of the world, and has realised it in the mystery of the Resurrection.”
Saint Mary Magdalene, who, before she met Jesus, was at the mercy of the evil one, became “the apostle of the new and greatest hope.” Her life was changed because she had “seen the Lord.” Mary’s experience is an example for us, too, whose lives are changed because we have seen the Lord. This, Pope Francis said, “is our strength, and our hope.”

Pope Francis: Fatima reminds us to care for the faith of children

Pope Francis (C) accompanied by Leiria-Fatima Bishop Antonio Marto (R) changes skull-caps with a young child at the entrance of the Our Lady Rosario Cathedral

.- On Sunday Pope Francis reflected on the May 13 canonization of the child visionaries St. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, saying that their faithfulness, despite their young age, reminds us to pay special attention to children in the ministry of the Church.
“In Fatima the Virgin chose the innocent heart and the simplicity of little Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, as guardians of her message. These children received it worthily, so to be recognized as reliable witnesses to the apparitions, and to become models of Christian life.”
“With the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta, I wanted to propose to the whole Church their example of adherence to Christ and of evangelical witness, and I also wanted to propose to the whole Church to take care of children,” he said May 14.
The holiness of these children is not a consequence of the apparitions they received, he said, but of the “fidelity and ardor with which they returned the privilege they received of being able to see the Virgin Mary.”
“After the encounter with the ‘beautiful lady,’ as they called her, they frequently recited the Rosary, they did penance and offered sacrifices for the end of the war and for the most needy souls of divine mercy.”
This is what made them saints, he said.
Pope Francis addressed around 25,000 people in St. Peter’s Square Sunday afternoon before praying the Regina Coeli.
In his greeting, he expressed his gratefulness to God for the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Fatima May 12-13 for the centenary of the apparitions, going “to the feet of the Virgin Mother as a pilgrim of hope and peace.”
He also thanked the bishops of Portugal, and in particular the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, António Augusto dos Santos Marto, as well as the local authorities and everyone who helped to organize the visit.
“Last night I returned from the pilgrimage to Fatima,” he said, pausing to add a greeting to “the Madonna of Fatima!” followed by cheers from those present.
“In Fatima, I was immersed in the prayer of the holy faithful people, a prayer that flows there for a hundred years as a river, to beg Mary’s maternal protection on the whole world,” he went on.
“From the very beginning, when in the Chapel of the Apparitions I stayed for a long time in silence, accompanied by the prayerful silence of all the pilgrims, a together and contemplative climate was created where the various moments of prayer took place.”
And at the center of all of this, he said, was the Risen Lord present in the Eucharist.
Even 100 years after the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima there is still a great need for prayer and penance for the grace of conversion, Francis said. We also need prayers “to implore the end of so many wars that are everywhere in the world… and which disfigure the face of humanity.”
“Let us be guided by the light coming from Fatima. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is always our shelter, our consolation, and the way that leads us to Christ,” he said.
Following the prayer, the Pope spoke with sympathy for the people affected by wars and conflicts in the Middle East, both Christians and Muslims, who suffer from violence and discrimination.
“My solidarity accompanies the memory of prayer,” he said, thanking all those who provide humanitarian aid and encouraging “the various communities to follow the path of dialogue and reconciliation to build a future of respect, security and peace.”
He also mentioned the beatification in Dublin May 13 of Jesuit priest John Sullivan, who lived during the 19th and 20th centuries in Ireland. He was devoted to the teaching and training of young people, the Pope said, “and was loved and respected as a father to the poor and the suffering.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by mentioning the celebration of Mother’s Day in several countries. “Let us remember with gratitude and affection all moms, even our moms in heaven, trusting them to Mary, the mother of Jesus,” he said, concluding with a moment of silent prayer for mothers.
Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-fatima-reminds-us-to-care-for-the-faith-of-children-28700/

Pope Francis casts doubt on Virgin Mary apparitions at Bosnian pilgrimage site

The site at Medjugorje attracts a million pilgrims annually, but pope says ‘these supposed apparitions don’t have much value’

Pope Francis on Saturday expressed serious doubts regarding reported daily apparitions of the Virgin at Medjugorje in Bosnia, a site which attracts a million pilgrims annually.
In June 1981, six Bosnian children and teenagers said they had witnessed the appearance of the Virgin in the southern town, and allege she continues to visit to this day.
The woman they saw “is not the mother of Jesus,” the Pope said Saturday aboard the papal plane on his return from a trip to Portugal, where he canonised two young shepherds who had visions of the Virgin 100 years ago.

The Pope said an investigation under way by the Church had thrown up doubts regarding the Medjugorje apparitions.
He said he preferred “’the Mother Madonna’ or ‘our Mother’, and not the ‘Madonna chief of service’, for sending daily messages.”
The remarks are likely to make waves in Bosnia, where Catholics make up about 10% of the population and the religious tourism at Medjugorje brings money into the poor Balkan country.
“These supposed apparitions don’t have much value – I’m giving my personal opinion,” the pontiff continued.
“But it is obvious, who thinks the Virgin would say: ‘come to this place tomorrow at this time and I’ll give a message to a seer’?”
However the pope was more circumspect about the original 1981 apparitions, which he did not immediately reject.
“On the original apparitions, the ones the children had, the enquiry says, more or less, that investigations need to continue,” he said.

Several investigations have already been carried out, the last in January 2014, but the pope had made no announcement since.
However, in November 2013, he did express some doubts. “The Virgin,” he said, “is not a chief of the post office who would send messages every day.”
The Vatican earlier this year sent a new envoy to “acquire a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation” in Medjugorje, and “above all the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage”.
The envoy, however, will not be tasked with verifying the authenticity of the apparitions, because that task falls to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/14/pope-francis-casts-doubt-on-virgin-mary-apparitions-at-bosnian-pilgrimage-site

Pope Francis arrives in Portugal to canonise children at Fátima shrine

Pope Francis waves at well-wishers as he arrives at the Catholic shrine of Fátima.

Pope Francis waves at well-wishers as he arrives at the Catholic shrine of Fátima. Photograph: Reuters

Pope Francis arrives in Portugal to canonise children at Fátima shrine

Pontiff hopes message of young shepherds who saw Virgin Mary apparition 100 years ago still resonates with Catholics

Pope Francis has arrived in the Portuguese town of Fátima to honour two children whose visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago marked one of the most important events of the 20th-century Catholic church.

Tens of thousands of devotees lined the pontiff’s route and tossed petals as his motorcade drove past.

There was no official crowd estimate, but authorities were expecting 1 million people.

Francis looks at the crowd gathering in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima from the window of his helicopter.
Francis looks at the crowd gathering in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima from the window of his helicopter. Photograph: L’Osservatore Romano/AP

Francis is in the town to celebrate the centenary of the apparitions and to canonise illiterate shepherd children who saw them. He hopes the message of peace they reported 100 years ago, when Europe was in the throes of the first world war, will continue to resonate with Catholics.

Church groups, families and individuals have made their way to Fátima, about 90 miles north of Lisbon. Carrying candles, rosaries and roses, many have visited the statue dedicated to Our Lady of Fátima or tossed wax body parts – ears, hearts and limbs – into a fire to pray for healing.

“It is the second time I am here with a pope; first with John Paul II and now with Papa Francisco,” said pilgrim Elisabete Fradique Conceicao.

Devotees surround the popemobile as Francis heads to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima.
Devotees surround the popemobile as Francis heads to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

On 13 May 1917, while they were grazing their sheep, the children saw the first of a half-dozen visions of the Virgin Mary. They said she revealed to them three secrets – apocalyptic messages foreshadowing the second world war, hell, the rise and fall of communism and the death of a pope – and urged them to pray for peace and turn away from sin.

At first doubted by their parents and the local Catholic church, the children’s story slowly gained believers and was eventually accepted as authentic by the Vatican in 1930.

The children being canonised, brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who were nine and seven at the time of the apparitions, died of influenza two years later. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who became the main raconteur of their tale, is on track for beatification, the first step toward becoming a saint. Her case could not begin until after her death in 2005.

The pontiff prays in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima at the Chapel of the Apparitions.
The pontiff prays in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima at the Chapel of the Apparitions. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the importance of Fátima lay in the fact that poor, illiterate children – not the wealthy or learned – were able to convey a powerful message of love and forgiveness at a time of war, when “the talk was of hatred, vendetta, hostilities”.

Fátima has long been associated with St John Paul II. The Polish-born pope credited the Virgin Mary with having saved his life in 1981 when a would-be assassin shot him on Fátima’s feast day – 13 May – in St Peter’s Square.

He made the first of three pilgrimages to Fátima the following May, and one of the bullets fired at him now adorns the crown of the Madonna at the shrine.

Like John Paul, Argentinian-born Francis is devoted to the Madonna, thanks in large part to the strong role Marian devotions play in the popular piety of Latin American Catholics.

Worshippers pray at the shrine before the canonisation of Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
Worshippers pray at the shrine before the canonisation of Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty

In a video message on the eve of his trip to Portugal, Francis urged all faithful to join him, physically or spiritually, in Fátima. He said: “With all of us forming one heart and soul, I will then entrust you to Our Lady, asking her to whisper to each one of you: ‘My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path that leads you to God.’”

Taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/12/pope-francis-pilgrims-flock-to-shrine-town-fatima-children

Join me at the feet of Mary, Francis asks ahead of Fatima trip

In this May 12, 2010 file photo, faithful gather at Fatima’s Sanctuary for a candlelight vigil presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis is visiting the Fatima shrine on May 12 and 13 to canonize two Portuguese shepherd children who say they saw visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago. (Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP.)

“I need to feel your closeness, whether physical or spiritual; the important thing is that it come from the heart. In this way, I can arrange my bouquet of flowers, my ‘golden rose,’” Pope Francis said to the people of Portugal in a video message ahead of his Fatima visit.

Join me at the feet of Mary, Francis asks ahead of Fatima trip

ROME – Wednesday evening, just two days ahead of his trip to Fatima, Pope Francis sent a video message to the people of Portugal asking them to be with him during his pilgrimage, whether physically or spiritually, as he presents flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I need to feel your closeness, whether physical or spiritual; the important thing is that it come from the heart. In this way, I can arrange my bouquet of flowers, my ‘golden rose,’” he said in the May 10 video message.

“I want to meet everyone at the feet of the Virgin Mother.”

In the message, Francis said he had received many messages asking him to come to people’s homes, communities and towns during his visit, but that he was not able to accept, as much as he would like to.

He also thanked the various Portuguese authorities for being understanding about his decision to restrict his trip to only the usual events associated with a pilgrimage to Fatima, such as praying the rosary at the prayer vigil and visiting the Chapel of the Apparitions.

“Only a few days remain before our pilgrimage, mine and yours, to the feet of Our Lady of Fatima,” he said. “These are days of joy in expectation of our encounter in the home of Mary our Mother.

“It is as the universal pastor of the Church that I would like to come before the Madonna and to offer her a bouquet of the most beautiful ‘blossoms’ that Jesus has entrusted to my care (cf. Jn 21:15-17),” he continued.

And this means everyone around the world, “none excluded,” he explained. “That is why I need to have all of you join me there.

“With all of us forming ‘one heart and soul’ (cf. Acts 4:32), I will then entrust you to Our Lady, asking her to whisper to each one of you: ‘My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path that leads you to God’ (Apparition of June, 1917).”

In the video, Francis called the meeting “our pilgrimage,” the motto for which is ‘With Mary, a pilgrim in hope and in peace.’ The program for the visit contains many opportunities for prayer and conversion of heart, he said.

“I am happy to know that in anticipation of that blessed moment, the culmination of a century of blessed moments, you have been preparing yourselves by intense prayer,” he noted. “Prayer enlarges our hearts and makes them ready to receive God’s gifts. I thank you for all the prayers and sacrifices that you offer daily for me. I need them, because I am a sinner among sinners.”

Through prayer, he said, he receives light to his eyes, which “enables me to see others as God sees them, and to love others as he loves them.”

The pope makes the two-day pilgrimage to Fatima May 12-13 to celebrate the centenary of Mary’s appearance to three shepherd children in 1917.

During the trip, the pope will also celebrate Mass, presiding over the canonization of two of the child visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marta.

“In his name, I will come among you and have the joy of sharing with everyone the Gospel of hope and peace,” he concluded his message. “May the Lord bless you, and the Virgin Mother protect you!”


Taken from: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/05/11/join-feet-mary-francis-asks-ahead-fatima-trip/

Fatima Centenary: awaiting Pope Francis

A pilgrim carries a candle at Fatima Sanctuary, central Portugal, on May 11, 2017 - AFPA pilgrim carries a candle at Fatima Sanctuary, central Portugal, on May 11, 2017 – AFP

11/05/2017 17:54
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is just hours away from his departure for Fatima, Portugal, where he will lead celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady there. Our special envoy Chris Altieri is in Fatima, and sent us this report.
“If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” That’s sound advice any time one finds oneself about 20 miles from the Atlantic coast at nearly 1,000 ft. elevation.
We took rain off and on all morning, as we went from one side of the shrine complex to the other: first getting an unscheduled stop at the Carmel where Pope Francis is to stay the night Friday, then our hunt for our lodgings and then the press centre for accreditation and then the refectory for a quick bite to eat.
Cick below to hear our report

That’s par for the course on a journey like this – a pilgrimage, really – though I promise to be here from start to finish, God-willing, to bring you all the story – and it is as a pilgrim that Pope Francis is coming to this place in the hills north of Lisbon, where 100 years ago this weekend the Mother of God appeared to shepherd children , in the midst of what was the most costly and destructive conflict yet in human history, to show the whole human race once again the way to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ.
“With Mary, as a pilgrim of hope and peace I travel to Fatima,” said Pope Francis in a tweet on the eve of his departure. “Let us see in her that everything is God’s gift and He is our strength.”
Here, in Fatima, there is an uncanny mixture of constant bustle and tense calm, with groups of pilgrims of every age and state of life in the Church milling about, now completing this devotion, now moving to another – some braving wind and rain to cross the plaza on their knees – others seeking shelter, others heading home – at least for the day.
The shrine complex is getting busier by the hour, it seems, with volunteers and the inevitable security checkpoints adding to the bustle.
The Rosary of Our Lady, meanwhile, is in the air – quite literally – visibly in the great white sculpture that rises some 80 feet high over the square – and audibly, in the prayers of the pilgrims, whether piped through the public address, or whispered at arm’s length.
In Fatima, awaiting Pope Francis, I’m, Chris Altieri