Pope wants rosary prayed to protect Church from devil’s ‘turbulence’

To protect the Church during a period of “spiritual turbulence,” Pope Francis has asked Catholics around the world to pray the rosary every day during the month of October.

ROME – In a move suggesting Pope Francis believes the Church is in a moment of “spiritual turbulence,” the pontiff is asking Catholics around the world to pray the rosary every day during the month of October for protection of the Church from the devil.

The daily praying of the rosary during the “Marian month of October,” a Vatican statement Saturday said, will unite the faithful “in communion and penance, as a people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and St. Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always aims to divide us from God and among us.”
The statement also says that, as the pope noted during his daily homily on Sept. 11, prayer is the weapon against “the Great accuser who ‘travels around the world looking for accusations’.”

RELATED: Pope Francis: Don’t use logic of the ‘Great Accuser’ who doesn’t know ‘mercy’

Beyond daily praying of the rosary, the pope is also requesting that the faithful add two prayers: An ancient invocation Sub Tuum Praesidium and a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel “who protects and helps fight against evil,” according to the Book of Revelations.

The Vatican statement also said that the pope has tasked Jesuit Father Fréderic Fornos, who heads the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, to spread this appeal. The Spanish priest heads the network once known as the Apostleship of Prayer, responsible for the pope’s monthly prayer videos. October’s intention, planned a year in advance, is supposed to be “The Mission of Religious.”
“Only prayer can defeat [the devil],” said the statement. “The Russian mystics and the great saints of all traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to protect themselves under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God by pronouncing the invocation Sub Tuum Praesidium.”

The Marian prayer also known in English as “Beneath Thy Protection” is the oldest hymn dedicated to the Virgin and is well known among many Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox countries, and is often a favorite song used along with Salve Regina.

With the request announced on Saturday, the pope is “asking the faithful of the whole world to pray so that the Mother of God puts the Church under her protective mantle to preserve her from the attacks of the evil one, the great accuser, and to make [the Church] all the more conscious of the faults, the mistakes, the abuses made in the present and in the past, and more committed to fighting without any hesitation for evil not to prevail.”

The prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was written by Pope Leon XIII and incorporated into the rubrics of the Low Mass of the Church from 1886 to its suppression in 1964, which became effective a year later, after the Second Vatican Council. It was originally destined as a prayer for the independence of the Holy See and the pope’s temporal sovereignty.
After the signing of the Lateran Treaties in 1929 that led to the creation of the Vatican City State, the prayer remained in the Missal but was instead offered “to permit tranquility and freedom to profess the faith to be restored to the afflicted people of Russia.”

Pope Francis is not the first pope to ask the faithful to recite this prayer since 1964. John Paul II did so in 1994, saying that “although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”



Many of the Church Fathers held firm to the belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin

Our Lady Ever-Virgin


“[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing”.

 Cyril of Alexandria


A list of various of the Church Fathers who believed that Mary remained a virgin can be found e.g. in the article, “Mary: Ever Virgin”, at: https://www.catholic.com/tract/mary-ever-virgin


The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term “brethren.” The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as “brethren.” The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity.


Today most Protestants are unaware of these early beliefs regarding Mary’s virginity and the proper interpretation of “the brethren of the Lord.” And yet, the Protestant Reformers themselves—Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli—honored the perpetual virginity of Mary and recognized it as the teaching of the Bible, as have other, more modern Protestants.


The Protoevangelium of James

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by [St. Anne], saying, ‘Anne! Anne! The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.’ And Anne said, ‘As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall minister to him in the holy things all the days of its life.’ . . . And [from the time she was three] Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there” (Protoevangelium of James 4, 7 [A.D. 120]).

“And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of priests, saying, ‘Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?’ And they said to the high priest, ‘You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in and pray concerning her, and whatever the Lord shall manifest to you, that also will we do.’ . . . [A]nd he prayed concerning her, and behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him saying, ‘Zechariah! Zechariah! Go out and assemble the widowers of the people and let them bring each his rod, and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. . . . And Joseph [was chosen]. . . . And the priest said to Joseph, ‘You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.’ But Joseph refused, saying, ‘I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl’” (ibid., 8–9).

“And Annas the scribe came to him [Joseph] . . . and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him, ‘Joseph, whom you did vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.’ And the priest said, ‘How so?’ And he said, ‘He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord and has married her by stealth’” (ibid., 15).

“And the priest said, ‘Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low and forgotten the Lord your God?’ . . . And she wept bitterly saying, ‘As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and know not man’” (ibid.).



“The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the firstfruit of virginity” (Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).


Hilary of Poitiers

“If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and to John, ‘Behold your mother’ [John 19:26–27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate” (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).



“Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary” (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).


Epiphanius of Salamis

“We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . who for us men and for our salvation came down and took flesh, that is, was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit” (The Man Well-Anchored 120 [A.D. 374]).

“And to holy Mary, [the title] ‘Virgin’ is invariably added, for that holy woman remains undefiled” (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 78:6 [A.D. 375]).



“[Helvidius] produces Tertullian as a witness [to his view] and quotes Victorinus, bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian, I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proven from the gospel—that he [Victorinus] spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship, not by nature. [By discussing such things we] are . . . following the tiny streams of opinion. Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many other apostolic and eloquent men, who against [the heretics] Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man” (Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 19 [A.D. 383]).

“We believe that God was born of a virgin, because we read it. We do not believe that Mary was married after she brought forth her Son, because we do not read it. . . . You [Helvidius] say that Mary did not remain a virgin. As for myself, I claim that Joseph himself was a virgin, through Mary, so that a virgin Son might be born of a virginal wedlock” (ibid., 21).


Didymus the Blind

“It helps us to understand the terms ‘first-born’ and ‘only-begotten’ when the Evangelist tells that Mary remained a virgin ‘until she brought forth her first-born son’ [Matt. 1:25]; for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone else, nor did she ever become the Mother of anyone else, but even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin” (The Trinity 3:4 [A.D. 386]).


Ambrose of Milan

“Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son” (Letters 63:111 [A.D. 388]).


Pope Siricius I

“You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord’s body, that court of the eternal king” (Letter to Bishop Anysius [A.D. 392]).



“In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave” (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

“It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?” (Sermons 186:1 [A.D. 411]).

“Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband” (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).



“We confess, therefore, that our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before the ages, and in times most recent, made man of the Holy Spirit and the ever-virgin Mary” (Document of Amendment 3 [A.D. 426]).


Cyril of Alexandria

“[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing” (Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4 [A.D. 430]).


Pope Leo I

“His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained” (Sermons 22:2 [A.D. 450]).

[End of quotes]


Despite all of this, we read that as late as February of 2017 (by Ronald L. Conte Jr.):



A Nun publicly denied Mary’s Virginity



In a recent news story, Sister Lucia Caram, a Roman Catholic nun in Spain, publicly denied the dogma of the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The nun said: “I think Mary was in love with Joseph and that they were a normal couple – and having sex is a normal thing….”


This claim by Caram is abject heresy because it directly denies a dogma of the Roman Catholic Magisterium, Mary’s perpetual virginity (CCC 499 to 510; Denzinger 13, Nicene Creed; Councils of Ephesus, Constantinople II, and Florence). So any Catholic who rejects this teaching is guilty of heresy. And when one commits heresy knowingly, that is to say, in the knowledge that the heretical idea is contrary to the definitive teaching of the Church, the sin is formal heresy.


Now, based on the quotes from her in the press, we might say that instead of an obstinate denial of dogma, she is obstinately doubting the same. For she uses expressions such as “I wanted to say that it wouldn’t shock me if she had had a normal couple’s relationship with Joseph, her husband.” Even so, formal heresy is defined in Canon Law as obstinate denial or obstinate doubt.


“Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith….”


Every infallible teaching of the Magisterium is to be believed with “divine and Catholic faith”, which is the full assent of faith (theological assent).


But it is the grave sin of heresy to obstinately doubt or to obstinately deny. For example, suppose that someone says, “Jesus was just a man, and not the Son of God.”

That claim is heresy. But if he changes the wording to: “Perhaps Jesus was just a man, or perhaps he was the Son of God.” That doubt, if it is obstinate, is still heretical. For faith in the teaching that Jesus is God made man is destroyed by either: the denial or the doubt. You do not have faith in Jesus if you say “maybe he is God, and maybe not”.


Which types of denial or doubt are obstinate? Denial or doubt, which one does not struggle against, and which is chosen resolutely, that is, steadfastly. By contrast, if a Catholics has passing doubts, from time to time, about any dogma, the doubt is not obstinate. Or if a Catholic has difficulty accepting a dogma, but continues to trust in the teaching of the Church, the doubt is not obstinate.


{9:22} But Jesus said to him, “If you are able to believe: all things are possible to one who believes.”
{9:23} And immediately the father of the boy, crying out with tears, said: “I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.”


In the case of Sister Lucia Caram, her public expressions indicate clear obstinacy. I am not judging her soul. I am simply believing her own words about her own beliefs. She has publicly clearly emphatically stated her considered belief that perhaps Mary was not a virgin, and that perhaps she had marital relations with Joseph. Sister Lucia Caram is guilty of public formal heresy, and she should not be permitted to receive holy Communion.


And yet we hear very little from Church leaders in response to this story.


“The remarks were denounced by the Bishop of Vic in Spain, who issued a reminder that Mary’s virginity was not in question and that statements to the contrary ‘do not conform’ to the faith of the Catholic church. The statement also apologized for any confusion Caram’s statements may have caused.”


The Bishop’s statement points out that Mary’s virginity is a dogma taught by the Second Council of Constantinople. But, as far as we know, he has not taken any formal action against the nun, nor has her Order. He should have publicly stated her excommunication, which is automatic under Canon Law for the sin of formal heresy (or formal schism). And other Bishops should also have spoken against her. Then her Order should expel her, if she remains unrepentant.


The Church today is facing a crisis of belief. Heretical ideas are widespread among the faithful, and it has reached the point where heretics openly proclaim their rejection of dogma, with little response from the Bishops and other Church leaders.


[End of quote]


At a higher level (namely, Archbishop), Gerhard Ludwig Müller – appointed head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012, is believed to have denied the perpetual virginity of Mary amongst other doctrines. But he denied this:




“The task of this congregation is not only to defend the Catholic faith but to promote it, to give the positive aspects and possibilities of the whole richness of the Catholic faith,” Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller told EWTN News in a July 20 interview.


“We must speak about God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and also about Holy Scripture, the great Tradition of the Church, our Creed and our belief. In this way our hearts will be more open and our thinking more profound,” he said. …


Archbishop Muller’s latest appointment, however, has been met with a degree of criticism from some who allege he holds unorthodox views on a range of issues – from the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, to the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, to the relationship of non-Catholic Christians to the Church.


“These are not criticisms, they are provocations. And not very intelligent provocations at that,” he said. “Either they have not read what I have written or they have not understood it.”


“Our Catholic faith is very clear,” he explained, “that at the consecration during Mass a change occurs so that the whole substance of the bread and wine is changed into the whole substance body and blood of Jesus Christ, and that this change is rightly called transubstantiation. And we have refused to accept all the other interpretations, consubstantiation, transignification, transfinalisation and so on.”


The Church is also equally clear on the “virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus, mother of God, before, during and after the birth of Christ,” Archbishop Muller stated.

[End of quote]


Last year (2017) he, now Cardinal Müller, was sacked by the pope Francis as reported by Michael Sean Winters in his article, “Cardinal Muller departs the CDF: What does it mean?”:



My colleague Josh McElwee reports this morning on the decision by Pope Francis not to reconfirm Cardinal Gerhard Muller for a second five-year term as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Holy Father has selected the longtime #2 at the congregation, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ledaria Ferrer, S.J. to move up to the top spot.


The fact that Cardinal Muller was sacked should not come as a surprise. Conservatives within the curia and more progressive types beyond have both long complained that the man, though very gifted intellectually, could not organize a one man parade. He couldn’t run the office. This had become increasingly apparent in the CDF’s continued wrong notes on the subject of clergy sex abuse. Those who see this as an ideological purge on account of Muller’s increasingly confused position on Amoris Laetitia haven’t been paying attention. And, it is more than a little ironic that the same arch-conservatives who are floating the narrative that Muller has been sacked because he stood athwart Francis’ supposedly heterodox agenda were the same people griping about Muller when he was appointed. ….Then, the objection was that Muller was too sympathetic with liberation theology. Now he is the paragon of orthodoxy. These lay faithful who think they embody the papal magisterium are not exactly consistent.


The second principal takeaway is that Pope Francis is completely unafraid to do what is best for the Church. Earlier this week, the Australian authorities brought charges against another high ranking Vatican official, Cardinal George Pell, who was put on a temporary leave of absence to return to his native country and have his day in court. The official statement from the Vatican was deeply ambivalent. Some leaders might think twice before removing a second high ranking official, worried that it would suggest a chaotic situation. Not Francis. He is not someone who cares how things appear so much as how things are. Indeed, this may be the most challenging part of the reform of the curia, getting an organization designed to promote those who work there to remember that its job it to help the pope govern the universal church. Concern with how things look is characteristic of the courtier mentality of years past, not the missionary mentality to which the Second Vatican Council and ALL subsequent popes have called the Church.


Third, by hiring from within, Pope Francis has shown he is not declaring war on the congregation and its staff. If he had wanted to do that, he could have brought in someone from outside, such as Argentine Archbishop Victor Fernandez. Or, he could have selected someone who worked at the CDF, but a long time ago, like Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, now the Archbishop of Vienna. I thought he might tap former CDF official and now Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna. By promoting Archbishop Ladaria, Francis is indicating that he needs a change in management not a change in overall structure or constitution.


I have not been able to confirm Andrea Tornielli’s report that Pope Francis offered Muller a different curial post and that Muller declined, saying such a post was “beneath his dignity.” If this is true, it is outrageous. Curial officials serve at the pleasure of the pope. Their entire job is to help him. Cardinals take a special vow of obedience to the Holy Father. They pledge to support Jesus and His vicar even to the shedding of their blood, hence their red robes. Does Muller think his blood is less costly than his pride? I know this: If Pope Francis called Cardinal Sean O’Malley and told him he wanted him to go back to being the Bishop of the Virgin Islands or director of the Centro Catolico in Washington, O’Malley would be thrilled. I hope Cardinal Muller finds a job in which he can learn to cultivate the virtue of humility. ….



Mary points to Christ’s mercy, Pope Francis tells Fatima pilgrims

Pope Francis greets pilgrims at the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims at the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
.- Pope Francis asked pilgrims in Fatima on Friday evening to think about the qualities the Virgin Mary possesses, being careful not to make her into something she is not – especially elevating her mercifulness above that of her Son.
“Pilgrims with Mary … but which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the ‘narrow way’ of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady ‘unapproachable’ and impossible to imitate?”
“The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?” Pope Francis asked May 12.
It is through Mary’s cooperation and participation in salvation that she also became a channel of God’s mercy, he explained, praying that with Mary, we might “each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything.”

Pope Francis greeted pilgrims before leading the rosary at the Chapel of the Apparitions on the first night of his two-day pilgrimage to Fatima May 12-13 to celebrate the centenary of Mary’s appearance to three shepherd children in 1917.
During the visit to Fatima, the Pope will also say Mass, presiding over the canonization of two of the Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
In his greeting, Francis said that we do a great injustice to God and his grace if we speak of his justice without speaking also of his mercy. “Obviously, God’s mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment,” he said.
Because Christ redeemed our sin upon the cross, “we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved,” he explained.
Speaking of the rosary he would pray shortly, he said that in the recitation of the prayer’s mysteries we can contemplate the moments of Mary’s life: the joyful, the luminous, the sorrowful, and the glorious, as they happen, the Pope said.
“Each time we recite the rosary, in this holy place or anywhere else, the Gospel enters anew into the life of individuals, families, peoples and the entire world.”
Quoting from his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis said that in looking at Mary we are able to believe again “in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness.”

“Thank you for your welcome and for joining me on this pilgrimage of hope and peace,” he said, assuring those united with him, either physically or spiritually, that they have a special place in his heart.
He said that he felt Christ had entrusted them all to him, especially those most in need, as Our Lady of Fatima taught in one of her apparitions to the shepherd children.
“May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord’s blessing!”
Ending his message with a prayer, Francis prayed that “under the watchful gaze” of the Virgin Mary they may all come to sing about the mercy of God with joy and gladness, crying out that the God would show to him and to each of them the mercy he has shown his saints.
“Out of the pride of my heart, I went astray, following my own ambitions and interests, without gaining any crown of glory!” he prayed. “My one hope of glory, Lord, is this: that your Mother will take me in her arms, shelter me beneath her mantle, and set me close to your heart. Amen.”


A Theology Of Women? What Did Pope Francis Mean?

Our Lady of Siluva thumbDuring his now-famous impromptu interview while returning to Rome from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis declared the ordination of women a question settled definitively by Blessed Pope John Paul II, but suggested that women’s gifts might be used in other ways. His suggestion that a deeper “theology of women” might have to be developed in order to discern such service should not be misconstrued to mean the church has no theology of the feminine.  The pope’s use of the prepositional phrase – “in the church” – limited the scope of his comments.

Pope Francis did not say that the church does not have a theology of women, only that we did not have a deep theology of women in the church. His explanation focused on a central theological and Mariological tenet — the honorable status of Mary in the life of the Church — and from there he generalized about women in liturgical or leadership roles within the church.
“A church without women would be like the apostolic college without Mary. The Madonna is more important than the apostles, and the church herself is feminine, the spouse of Christ and a mother.”
“The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with housework …we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the church. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the church.”
Francis implied that we need a deeper transmission of these ideas. His commentary echoed his statements published previous to his pontificate. In “On Heaven and Earth,” a book originally published in 2010, the would-be-pope Jorge Bergoglio expressed similar sentiments in conversation with Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka.
[Bergoglio, on women:] In the theologically grounded tradition the priesthood passes through man. The woman has another function in Christianity, reflected in the figure of Mary. It is the figure that embraces society, the figure that contains it, the mother of the community. The woman has the gift of maternity, of tenderness; if all these riches are not integrated, a religious community not only transforms into a chauvinist society, but also one that is austere, hard, and hardly sacred. The fact that a woman cannot exercise the priesthood does not make her less than the male.
Moreover, in our understanding, the Virgin Mary is greater than the apostles. According to a monk from the second century, there are three feminine dimensions among Christians: Mary as Mother of the Lord, the church and the soul. The feminine presence in the church has not been emphasized much, because the temptation of chauvinism has not allowed for the place that belongs to the women of the community to be made very visible.
Based on his replies we can surmise that women becoming members of an ordained hierarchy is will not be debated by the Vatican. Yet, in Francis’ conversation with journalists, we perceive a call for more. What might that be?
In my recent book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, I introduced some of the church’s message to and about women. Reflecting on what Blessed John Paul II described as the “feminine genius”, I introduce readers to what the church says to women in terms of their blessed dignity, beautiful gifts, and bodacious mission. From where I stand, the Catholic Church has a theology of womanhood that can be gleaned from a variety of sources.
As Francis points out, church teaching already embraces the ultimate icon of femininity.
We have centuries of theological exposition on The Woman, that is, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every discussion of womanhood must be filtered through the lens, or hermeneutic, of Mary’s unique and exquisite fiat and of her being the Theotokos, the God-bearer, of the Christ. We see this already in Francis’ words and in his example of beginning his pontificate by expressing his relationship and dependence on the Mother of God, the woman John Paul II called “the mirror and measure of femininity.” Mary, the epitome of the feminine genius, must be the cornerstone of any theology of womanhood.
For a deeper theology of womenhood, theological precision must also be based upon sound anthropology. Again, the work of John Paul II on the theology of the body, the common phrase for his corpus of written and preached ideas about the nature of man and woman, their relationship to God and each other, is certainly is a place to deepen our awareness of the feminine genius.
John Paul II’s pontificate also brought apostolic letters on women such as Mulieris Dignitatum, (“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”, 1989); and The Letter to Women, written in advance of the United Nations’ 1995 Conference on Women in Beijing. Women were also challenged within his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, (“The Gospel of Life,” 1995) to create “a new feminism” that speaks to the modern culture.
Finally, we cannot fail to mention that the Catholic Church has a powerful social doctrine whereby the dignity of the human person reigns supreme, and the dignity and vocation of women is attendant to that. It is perhaps here that we may find hints of Pope Francis’ future contribution.
A theology of womanhood can be gleaned from these many sources, if people only have time (and the inclination) to do the gleaning.
Is perhaps what we really need is a deeper reception of our existing theology of womanhood, and work toward making its claims more universal? The whole purpose of my book was to introduce these basic theological musings about women.
“The enemy of human nature — Satan — hits hardest where there is more salvation, more transmission of life, and the woman — as an existential place — has proven to be the most attacked in history. She has been the object of use, of profit and slavery, and was relegated to the background… (From On Heaven and Earth, p. 102.)”
True enough: women around the world still do not enjoy the freedoms that their human dignity entitles them. From the book of Genesis, from the fall till now, the woman has been targeted by evil. Yet, through the womanhood of Mary, comes a savior who saves and inspires us to see and do the more he wishes to accomplish.
In the name of Jesus, and with the heart of Mary who stands at the foot of the cross, the church must not only look within, but look without. It must not only stand with women who suffer, but alleviate their need.
Women, themselves, too, must embrace a deeper call. Never before in world history have there been so many women who have been given so much materially. Yet one of woman’s greatest feminine gifts has nothing to do with material advancement, it is the gift of maternity — both the physical kind and the spiritual maternity that embraces society, contains it, and brings new life to it.
Somewhere, within Francis’ words on the plane the other day, I heard echoes of Paul VI at the close of Vatican II extolling women to come to the aid of humanity for love’s sake.
But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which the woman acquires and influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment…. Women impregnated with the spirit of Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.
We, indeed, have a sure foundation for a theology of women.
Francis, let women assist you in rebuilding the church, and bringing new life to the world!

Pat Gohn is a writer, speaker and the creator and host of Among Women podcasts. She is a columnist at Patheos.com and her book, “Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood,” is published through Ave Maria Press


Overplaying the Aramaïc card

Image result for hebrew and aramaic

Jesus would have spoken Hebrew with

a Galilean accent


Part Four: Overplaying the Aramaïc card



“We should expect there to be sound reasons for interpreting a word

contrary to its etymological meaning and its normal usage”.

 Ken M. Penner



This is a promising contribution, along the lines of what I have been at pains to point out in this series regarding the pre-eminence of the Hebrew language in the Bible.

Ken M. Penner introduces his scholarly article, “Ancient names for Hebrew and Aramaic: A Case for Lexical Revision”, as follows:



Despite the etymology and the usual meaning of the cognate adjective Ἑβραῖος “Hebrew”, the standard lexicon of New Testament Greek claims that the phrase τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτω “in the Hebrew(?) language” in Acts refers not to Hebrew but to “the Aramaic spoken at that time in Palestine.” ….

Two of the most prominent English translations agree. Although Acts 21:40-22:2 uses the expression τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτω to refer to Paul’s address to the crowd, the New International Version translates using “Aramaic.” Παῦλος ἑστως ἐπὶ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν κατέσεισεν τῇ χειρὶ τῷ λαῷ. πολλῆς δὲ σιγῆς γενομένης προσεφώνησεν τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτω … ἀκούσαντες δὲ ὃτι τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτω προσεφώνει αὐτοῖς μᾶλλον παρέσχον ἡσυχίαν. “Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in  Aramaic, ‘Brothers and Fathers, listen now to my defense.’ When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic they became very quiet” (NIV). The NRSV does call the language “Hebrew” in its translation, but a footnote explains, “That is,  Aramaic.


We should expect there to be sound reasons for interpreting a word contrary to its etymological meaning and its normal usage. After all, Ἑβραΐς is simply a feminine form of the adjective normally meaning “Hebrew.” It is the masculine form of this word that Paul used when calling himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil 3:5). And Ἑβραϊστί means

“in Hebrew” both etymologically and as used by authors before and after the first century. For example, the prologue to Ben Sira says, “For what was originally expressed in Hebrew (αὐτὰ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Εβραϊστὶ λεγόμενα) does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language” (RSV). When Revelation 9:11 says Abbadon is a “Hebrew” name, it uses Ἑβραϊστί (ὄνομα αὐτῷ ῾Εβραϊστὶ ᾿Αβαδδὼν καὶ ἐν τῇ ῾Ελληνικῇ ὄνομα ἔχει ᾿Απολλύων). Revelation 16:16 uses it to explain that Armageddon is the name of the place “in Hebrew” τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον ῾Εβραϊστὶ ῾Αρμαγεδών.


In this article I first review the reasoning behind rendering Ἑβραΐς/Ἑβραϊστί as “(in)  Aramaic”, then identify patterns in ancient names for Hebrew and Aramaic, in which I show that Ἑβραΐς/Ἑβραϊστί never refers unambiguously to Aramaic but only refers to the Hebrew language.





Pope Francis: Women are victims of a “throwaway culture”

Jesus Teaches Woman at the Well

Pope Francis on Friday said women suffer from a throwaway culture, and Jesus “changed history” by ending women’s second-class status in society.

Pope Francis on Friday said women suffer from a throwaway culture, and Jesus “changed history” by ending women’s second-class status in society.
Speaking during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae – which featured the Gospel account of Jesus speaking about “committing adultery in your heart” – Francis said Jesus’ words about women acknowledged their equality with men, when before they were little more than “slaves” that did not “even have complete freedom.”
“Jesus’ doctrine about women changes history. Before Jesus the view about women was one thing but after Jesus they are another,” Francis said, according to Vatican News, a service of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.
“Jesus dignifies women and puts them on the same level as men because he takes that first word of the Creator, both are ‘the image and likeness of God,’ both of them; not first the man and then a little lower down the woman, no, both are. And a man without a woman beside him – whether as a mother, as a sister, as a bride, as a working companion, as a friend – that man by himself is not the image of God,” the pope continued.

However, Francis pointed out that women are still objectified in today’s world, and images used in advertising often “humiliated” women or featured them “wearing no clothes.”
He said women were victims of a “disposable mentality,” not just in “far away places,” but all around us.
“This is a sin against God the Creator, rejecting women because without her we men cannot be the image and likeness of God. There is an anger and resentment against women, an evil anger,” the pontiff said.
“Even without saying it… But how many times do young women have to sell themselves as disposable objects in order to get a job? How many times? ‘Yes, Father, I heard in that country…’ Here in Rome. There’s no need to go far away,” Francis continued.
“All this happens here in Rome, it happens in every city, anonymous women, women – we can describe as ‘faceless’ because shame covers their faces, women who do not know how to laugh and many of them do not know the joy of breastfeeding their baby and the experience of being a mother,” the pope said.
Francis spoke about women being sexually exploited – used and sold as if they are in a market. He said this happens in neighborhoods even in Rome.
“But, even in our everyday life, without going to those places, there is this ugly way of thinking, of rejecting women or seeing her as a ‘second class’ person. We need to reflect more deeply about this. And by doing this or saying this, by entering into this way of thinking, we despise the image of God, who made man and woman together with his image and likeness,” the pope said.
“This Gospel reading helps us to think about the marketing of women, a trade, yes, trafficking, that exploitation which is visible but also that trade which we can’t see but is taking place out of sight. A woman is trampled underfoot precisely because she is a woman,” he said.
The pope reminded his listeners that Jesus encountered many women – despised, marginalized, cast aside – and showed them great tenderness that restored their dignity, and had “many female friends who followed him to help him in his ministry…and provide support.”

Victorious Messiah’s Triumphal Parade

Image result for Jesus victory parade of cross



Damien F. Mackey



“And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the Cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them by the Cross”.

Colossians 2:13-15



One of the great contributions that Pope Benedict XVI has made in his book Jesus of Nazareth. Part Two: “Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection”, is, I believe, in his clear differentiation between the type of Messiah that the majority of the Jews were anticipating, and in the actual type of Messiah that they got in Jesus the Christ.


Even amongst the Apostles, one of whom was a Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15), some at least were sword-bearing. And this included Simon Peter himself, who hacked off the ear of the high priest’s slave (John 18:10) in the Garden of Gethsemane.


Was Judas the betrayer, himself, a Sicarii (dagger bearer, Iscariot = Sicarii), as well as being a thief?

It was a self-serving type of Messiahship that most were desiring, one to rid themselves of the hated pagan occupiers, and perhaps to restore the theocratic world of King David and Solomon (the Lions of Judah), which most would have regarded as a halçyon golden age for Israel.


But this One who now claimed to be the Son of God, this Jesus of Nazareth, came with neither sword nor earthly army. And he was far more inclined to criticize the Jewish leaders than he was the pagans. Admittedly, the crowds flocked to him because of his personal magnetism and his miracle working. But his doctrine was radically different from that of the Jewish leaders. He proclaimed the Beatitudes, peace and love, and offering no resistance, and service and loving one’s enemies. God the Father he revealed to be a God of otherness.


Simon Peter himself, who had become convinced that Jesus was indeed the One who was to come, and who was in awe at the incident of the Transfiguration, still tried to manoeuvre his Lord away from this talk of death on a Cross. Later he drew the sword in defence of the Lord, who of course needed no defending.

God the Father would promptly send Jesus, at his bidding, “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53).


But He was like a lamb led to the slaughter, when crucified.


Milton Terry has written, regarding the Book of Revelation’s emphasis on Jesus’s crucifixion (as in 1:7), a “lamb”, “slain”, that there is a certain irony in this imagery: “The great trouble with Judaism was that it looked for a mighty lion; and was scandalized to behold, instead, a little lamb” (cf. Luke 24:21, 25-27; John 6:15; 19:15). [Biblical Apologetics, p. 323].


And finally, even after the Resurrection, at the Ascension, the Apostles were still asking him if he were going to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). They still had not properly understood Him.

Needed now was the Holy Spirit, to enlighten them inwardly, so that they might become other Christs.

Given this mentality, it is not really surprising that the crowd, egged on by the priests and the scribes, would have clamoured for Barabbas rather than for Jesus.




We might be tempted to think of this Barabbas as a dirty witless oaf, somewhat as portrayed, for instance, in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. But he was probably not like that at all. He was, as was Jesus, a leader who apparently drew people through personal magnetism. So he would have been somewhat charismatic.

He, though, was a revolutionary (lestes) against the occupying power, and so was just what the people were wanting. Whilst Barabbas was indeed popular with the masses he may not have been so much so with the Temple aristocracy, who likely considered him to be rather too brutal and lawless for their liking.

But that was not going to stop them from inciting the crowd to call for Barabbas over Jesus.


Ironically, Greek versions give his name as ‘Jesus Barabbas’, which mean ‘Jesus son of the father’*; a name most fitting to the real Savior. And it is quite common for writers to proceed from this to make the outlandish suggestion even that Jesus and Barabbas were one and the same person.

Anyway, if ever there were a populist type of Messiah, then this Barabbas was the epitome of it. And, given, that Barabbas did represent some sort of threat to the occupying power, whereas it was obvious to Pontius Pilate that Jesus of Nazareth did not, it is rather mystifying that Pilate would have let him go?


[*Abba has been found as a personal name in a 1st-century burial at Giv’at ja-Mivtar, and Abba also appears as a personal name frequently in the Gemara section of the Talmud, dating from AD 200–400. These findings support “Barabbas” being used to indicate the son of a person named Abba or Abbas].



So, who was Barabbas?

Where did He come from?

Where did He go?


These three questions are asked at:


where the writer then summarises the little that we know of Barabbas in the Gospels:


[Barabbas] was a robber (John’s account), a notable prisoner (Matthew’s account), someone who had (with others who were also imprisoned) made an insurrection/sedition and committed murder in the insurrection (Mark’s and Luke’s accounts). So, this man was a true brigand and a captain of them. His name appears to be taken from “bar abba” meaning “son of the father” (although some have suggested “bar rabbi” meaning “son of the teacher.” Supposedly, he participated in the ‘insurrection’, – what “insurrection”? The “insurrection” wherein fanatically ‘religious’ Jews sought to overthrow Herod’s Roman supported ‘secular’ governance – in an unsuccessful attempt to re-establish the ancient ‘theocratic’ form of governance as was instituted by David’ (after the Lord rebuked the ‘anointed’ king Saul and replaced him with David?”


The Church Fathers it seems, according to this source, were unable to add very much to this:


I scanned through the early church writers to see if there were any interesting legends about him. I mostly came up empty. Tertullian describes him as “the most abandoned criminal” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 4, Chapter 42). Cyril of Alexandria describes him as “a notorious robber” and “a dangerous and brutal criminal, [who was] not free from blood-guiltiness” (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, at John 18:40). Augustine calls him “the robber,” “the murderer,” and “the destroyer [of life]” (Augustine, Tractate 116 on John’s Gospel, at John 19:1). Even Faustus (whom Augustine opposed) called him “the notorious robber” (Faustus quoted in Augustine’s Reply to Faustus, Book 14, Section 1). Chrysostom provides a characteristically colorful description:

“For which was right? To let go the acknowledged criminal, or Him about whose guilt there was a question? For, if in the case of acknowledged offenders it was fit there should be a liberation, much more in those of whom there was a doubt. For surely this man did not seem to them worse than acknowledged murderers. For on this account, it is not merely said they had a robber; but one noted, that is, who was infamous in wickedness, who had perpetrated countless murders”.


– Chrysostom, Homily 86 on Matthew, Section 2, at Matthew 27:11-12


On the whole, though, the early church basically leaves Barabbas alone. A couple (Origen and Rabanius) describe him as figuring the Devil, while Pseudo-Jerome goes so far as to associate him with the scapegoat which was freed. I’m told the “Gospel According to the Hebrews” is an apocryphal work that takes the “son of the teacher” interpretation as opposed to “son of the father,” but generally the apocryphal works also pretty much leave him alone or simply parrot the canonical accounts.


Gill provides similar comments, and adds: “The Ethiopic version adds, “the prince”, or “chief of robbers, and all knew him”; and the Arabic, instead of a “prisoner”, reads, a “thief”, as he was”.



Fire Falling from Heaven: Elijah and the Miracle of Fatima


Damien F. Mackey


Today is the 13th of June (2018), and I am always well aware of the 13th day of the month, from May to October, as being the key dates of the 1917 Fatima (Portugal) apparitions of our Lady of the Rosary.

This morning at Mass the Old Testament reading, from 1st Kings, was, most appropriately, the fiery account of the prophet Elijah’s contest with the priests of Ba’al on mount Carmel. Though this text has often been likened to the Fatima Miracle of the Sun which occurred on the 13th of October 1917, the Mass being celebrated today was actually in honour of the (albeit Portuguese born) very popular St. Anthony of Padua. I was listening intently to the gripping reading, so full of biting irony against the Ba’alists – and not connecting it to Fatima – until, at its dramatic conclusion of fire coming down from heaven to consume the offerings, and licking the water in the troughs, my mind reverted to the Fatima miracle of a downwards spiralling sun and the water from the incessant rain suddenly drying.


Firstly, let us recall what happened on the 13th day of June 1917, as I wrote about it in my book:

The Five First Saturdays Of Our Lady of Fatima


The Second Apparition: 13th of June

On the 13th of June, the feast of St. Anthony, Our Lady again asked the children to recite the Rosary:

“I want you to say the Rosary every day”.

During this apparition, the central massage of which was the need for reparative devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there was no lack of symbolism of a biblical nature, nor lack even of miraculous phenomena. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as usual over the little holm-oak tree, with Her feet resting on a small cloud; but this time, as Lucia recalled, there was a star with points of intense brightness at Her feet. On statues of Our Lady of Fatima today, this star is always represented on Our Lady’s dress just above Her feet. We might recall that at Lourdes the Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared with golden roses on Her feet. “But why on Her feet?”, asks Fr. Smolenski. The answer that he gives to his own question, as follows, may also explain why Our Lady of Fatima had a star at Her feet: “Then I came across this passage in Isaiah: “how beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of one who brings good news, who heralds peace, brings happiness, proclaims salvation, and tells Sion ‘Your God is king!’” (Isaiah 52:7). So it seems that Mary chose scriptural imagery – like a window in a church – to explain Her purpose and identity”. (Immaculata magazine, May 1982, p. 10).

As for the star itself, even Lucia said that she did not know what it was meant to signify. But Francis Johnston (In Fatima: the Great Sign) has made the intriguing suggestion that this star may be meant to remind us of Queen Esther, whose name is thought to derive from the Persian word for “star”. Even more precisely, it is the morning star. And it is most appropriate therefore that the Lady of Light always came to the Cova da Iria, like the morning star from the east; and afterwards She disappeared in the light of the sun towards the east. She had come to signal the dispersion of darkness, and to herald light and peace”.

“Continue, my children, reciting the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world. (13th of May, 1917).

Given what we have already leaned about Fatima, there is a good likelihood that one may be on the right track in looking to discover the significance of the star by its having some symbolic connection with the Book of Esther. The legitimacy of such an approach may, in this case, receive some further support from the fact that, during the 13th of June apparition, even nature itself seemed under constraint to testify that a royal Person had come on that day to the Cova da Iria. For thus we read in More About Fatima (p. 20):

“The day was bright and hot as it usually is in Portugal in the month of June. Now, during the entire period of the apparition the light of the sun was dimmed in an exceptional manner, without any apparent cause. At the same time, the topmost branches of the tree were bent in the form of a parasol, and remained thus as if an invisible weight had come to rest upon them…”.

Then, during the departure of this royal Visitor from Heaven, this ‘New Queen Esther’, we read that:

“… the onlookers saw rise from the tree a beautiful white cloud which they could follow with their eyes for quite a while as it moved in the direction of the East. Further, at the Lady’s departure, the upper branches of the tree, without losing the curved shape of a parasol, leaned towards the East, as if in going away the Lady’s dress had trailed over them. And this double pressure which had bent the branches, first into a curve and then towards the East, was so great that the branches remained like this for long hours, and only slowly resumed their normal position”.

Even the bright day-star itself must remain dim in the presence of the Queen of Heaven, who is “more resplendent than the sun”. And the branches of the holm-oak must bow in Her honour as She passes by, on Her way towards the presence of the King. It is an image already evoked in Psalm 44, in the glorification of the royal princess:

“All the glory of the king’s daughter is within, clothed with gold-woven robes; in many-coloured robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train”. (vv. 13-14).

Almighty God chose to make the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary itself the very focal point of the 13th of June apparition. Lucia, later recalling the extraordinary grace that Heaven had deigned to bestow upon her and her little companions that day, said that the Lady, after speaking to them at some length about Her Immaculate Heart, then stretched forth Her hands, throwing on the children rays of immense light in which they saw themselves as if immersed in God.

“The Blessed Virgin held in Her right hand a Heart surrounded by thorns, which pierced it from all sides”.


The seers understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, afflicted by all the sins of the world, which demanded penance and reparation. Said Lucia:

“It seems to me, that on that day, the purpose of the light was to pour into us a special knowledge and love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as on other occasions it infused into us the knowledge and love of God, and the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. From that day, indeed, we experienced a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. (“More About Fatima”, p. 88).

On this occasion Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, who had been called by Our Lady to the sublime vocation of making known to the world the devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, were even granted the privilege of gazing momentarily in vision upon Her most pure Heart – the very embodiment of the devotion. Jacinta and Francisco’s time though for spreading this devotion on earth, before being taken up into Heaven, would be short. But not so for Lucia; for, as Our Lady told her,


“You must remain longer on earth. Jesus wishes to use you in making Me known and loved. He wishes to spread in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace this devotion. Their souls will be loved by God with a love of predilection, like flowers placed by Me before His throne”. (Ibid., p. 86).

An when Lucia appeared sad at the thought of having to remain alone on earth after the death of her two companions, Our Lady consoled Her by saying:

“No, my child, I shall never abandon you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God”. (Ibid.) ….


For a better appreciation of the irony and sarcasm hurled against the priests of Ba’al by the prophet Elijah, one could do no better than to read Leah Bronner’s The stories of Elijah and Elisha as polemics against baal worship (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1968).


Many suggested comparisons between Elijah’s fire from heaven and the Fatima miracle can be found on the Internet. Here are a few interesting ones taken from:



It seems that Heaven has confirmed Our Lady at Fatima in the same mission of the prophet Elijah. Our Lady at Fatima appearing in her Carmelite habit with a similar fire from Heaven during the miracle of the sun. The stupendous Fatima Miracle is the Greatest Supernatural Event of the 20th Century and does not belong to faith or science it is an Historical Event! 

The Miracle of the Sun authenticated Fatima as supernatural in origin and also is a prefigurement or warning of a future catastrophe if the simple requests made at Fatima by our Lady are not heeded. ….




Lourdes and Fatima belong to a long line of Approved Marian Apparitions leading back to the founding of the Carmelite Order on Mt Carmel by the Prophet Elijah. Here Elijah battled 450 priests of Baal in a public spiritual contest which led to their defeat and ruin. He challenged the people to stop hobbling first on one foot and then on the other but to choose who is God in Israel Yahweh or Baal. According to the story, which can be found in the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, Elijah’s sacrifice was consumed by fire from heaven and proved to the people that Yahweh was the true God. Is it possible God is sending his Mother the Queen of prophets to help us defeat the prophets of Baal resurrected in our own time. ….


And, perhaps in connection with: “The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as usual over the little holm-oak tree, with Her feet resting on a small cloud …”:


Elijah ascended Mount Carmel to pray to God for the salvation of the Israel which was suffering a terrible drought at that time. Elijah “Casting himself down upon the earth he put his face between his knees.” 1 Kings 18:42. He sent his servant seven times higher up the mountaintop to look for rain. Elijah, never wavered in his confidence, and received the good news on the seventh try. ….


Soon thereafter, torrential rains fell upon the parched land and the people of Israel were saved. Later an austere community of hermits followed Elijah and prayed in expectation of the advent of a Virgin-Mother who would bring salvation to mankind. They also saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah and made it their spiritual mission to pray for the advent of the Virgin.




The identification with the Mystery of Mt. Carmel is even more apparent. Mary came transported upon a cloud from the east similar to the … cloud rising from the ocean that Elijah saw that eventually inundated the earth with life giving rain ending a severe draught. Could this, along with other mysteries still hidden within the drama of Fatima, Signify a Second Advent with Mary?  Fatima seems to announce the Second Advent Mary as seen in the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation: The woman clothed with the sun the moon under her feet, and who with the help of God, prepares the church to meet Christ in his second advent his glorious second coming.



In relation to this, though, see my article:


Beyond the “Second Coming”




Out of the flames there will arise, phoenix-like, a Marian “era of peace”

Image result for five first saturdays


Damien F. Mackey


No, with error now unleashed, the problem had become universal. ‘Russia’s errors’ had now become the world’s errors, and so the entire world now (Russia included) had needed to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.



One hundred years of Fatima (1917-2017), as it now stands, afford us with an ideal opportunity for pausing and reflecting back on how history has unfolded in connection with the series of Marian apparitions at the Cova da Iria (Fatima, Portugal), and in Spain (Pontevedra and Tuy). And the best is yet to come.

But perhaps, also, the worst – though we now have the three privileged seers, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, in heaven (a further promise of Our Lady) – two of whom (Jacinta and Francisco) have already been canonised as saints – to assist us in our sorely troubled times.


History has witnessed, fully in accordance with what Our Lady of the Rosary had foretold at Fatima in 1917, the end of one World War and then another, far worse one preceded by the ‘strange and unknown light’ (seen in 1938). See my:


The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917. Part Three: The ‘Unknown Light’ of 1938


Since then there have been many further wars and revolutions, culminating in today’s terrorism. The wisdom of the Church in approving the Fatima apparitions in 1930 is manifest in the fact that Fatima constitutes true prophecy, with its predictions being progressively and inevitably fulfilled. One of the most spectacular fulfilments was of course the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ on October 13, 1917, foretold, to the very month, hour and minute, and witnessed by almost 100,000 people. See my:


The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917






The Great Solar Miracle. Fatima October 13, 1917. Part Two: Shedding Light on Joshuan Miracle of Sun





‘Spread of Error’


Our post-World War era (from 1945) corresponds exactly with the spreading of “error” throughout the world (Sr. Lucia’s comment in 1946). For unfortunately, due to humanity’s sinful stubbornness, the consecration of Russia for which Our Lady asked as early as 1929, was not done back then.

“It will be late”, as Our Lord had lamented. More than half a century “late” in fact, in 1984. (Though some insist that the requested consecration has not yet been accomplished. I shall come back to that). Thus the Pandora’s Box full of every conceivable form of “error” was flung wide open, seemingly with nothing capable of shutting it. The succession of Holy Fathers since has had “much to suffer”, as Our Lady had foretold, from persecution without, and even within, the Church. One pope, saint John Paul II, was in fact shot and almost killed by an assassin. This was on the 13th of May, 1981, and the pope recognized that he had been saved by the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

The long-awaited Third Secret of Fatima, first opened in 1960, during the pontificate of pope John XXIII, was finally revealed to the public 40 years later, in 2000. It disappointed some, amongst whom there were those who have claimed that it has not yet been fully revealed by the Church. It was however interpreted by the competent ecclesiastical authorities, who then regarded it as referring basically to C20th events.


So, was that the end of Fatima, perhaps to be updated now by more recent Marian revelations for the Third Millennium?


No it was, in a sense, only just the beginning.

Today error is rampant, with even the good being affected by it. For example, some Christian scientists are still clinging to, and promoting, out-dated evolutionary views, even while other authoritative Christian scientists are courageously exposing the false science in all of this and warning that evolutionary theory is anti-Design. See e.g. my:


Polish Professor prefers Devolution to Evolution




Theory of Evolution Cartoonishly Dumb




Theory of Evolution Cartoonishly Dumb. Part Two: G. K. Chesterton Summed It Up




It is in fact one of the greatest errors of our time, a false idea with enormous consequences.


Today it is often hard to find clear guidance anywhere. We are tossed about on a sea of calamitous storms. So our world today desperately needs to be re-orientated towards that “fixed point of reference” which is the Virgin Mary (John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater), the unfailing “Star of the Sea”.

And Fatima still has a central rôle to play in the final outcome.

Perhaps the answer to What, now, in the Third Millennium?, has been answered by Vox Populi, whose contention is that a popular groundswell movement to urge the papacy to proclaim that Fifth Marian Dogma, Mary as Mediatrix, and its successful attainment, will be the spiritual catalyst needed for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which must inevitably mean the triumph of Divine Mercy.

Legion of Mary founder, Frank Duff, had been an enthusiast for the doctrine as he had incorporated it into his Legion of Mary handbook. “Perhaps if his beatification gets a run on it may tie in with the popular request for a definition”.

Frits Albers of the Australian Marian Academy of the Immaculate Conception (AMAIC) wrote it into the AMAIC’s very Constitution in 1988, with reference to “Redemptoris Mater”: ““Mary present in mankind …” In every extension, and wherever the Mystery of Christ is at work! A future Pope will not have much difficulty in reading in these words an expression of how Tradition sees Mary as the ‘Mediatrix of all Graces’.”


What might give me pause, though, to become in any way involved in some worldwide push to have the pope proclaim a Fifth Marian Dogma would be that this would remind me of the efforts of those who, over the years, have kept insisting that the pope fulfil Our Lady of the Rosary’s wishes and collegially consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

Fr. N. Gruner’s dubious Fatima apostolate is at the forefront of this campaign.

For I am entirely of the conviction that pope John Paul II had fulfilled the conditions for this collegial act in his 1984 Consecration, or ‘Act of Entrustment’, and that Sister Lucia had personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished (“Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984”: “Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984”: Letter of 8 November 1989).

Hence, I believe that any further discussion or request was without basis.

See further my discussion of this in my book:


The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima




in which reasons are given for why I think that the Consecration had been properly achieved.

Ultimately it is the Church (not the seers) that interprets revelations and visions.

From time to time one may even have discerned notes of disappointment in Sr. Lucia’s own comments, but she always wisely submitted to the Church’s judgment. Her obedience was always a strong trait, as with all holy people. It is a virtue quite lacking, though, amongst the ‘seers’ of the false and unapproved apparitions, and indeed amongst their followers.

The need for the Church to interpret private revelations requires to be underlined. The three Fatima children, and those present at the Cova da Iria on 13th October 1917, were anticipating a miracle at midday, Portuguese time. But Heaven has its own timetable, and the Miracle actually occurred at midday solar time.

It was a miracle for the whole word!

A similar sort of human miscalculation is thus possible in the case of the Consecration. On a human level, one may well query that the Consecration has not been achieved, apart from the contentious issue that pope John Paul II did not make it specifically a consecration of Russia. For, despite the initial and spectacular collapse of communism a few years after 1984 (and many attribute this largely to John Paul II), the world does not appear to be showing the signs of finding its way back to God. On the contrary, error, as I have noted, is increasingly rampant. But that is to be expected.

The Consecration was done late, after all the errors had been unleashed. The 1984 Consecration was like a brake whose retarding effect though will take time to become fully manifest. We now have to work at undoing the error. The call for the Fifth Marian Dogma by the faithful may indeed be an essential part of this work. John Paul II, who was an astute discerner of what the Holy Spirit was saying to the Churches, probably realised that it was no longer sufficient to consecrate only Russia, which would have fulfilled the conditions back in the early C20th. No, with error now unleashed, the problem had become universal. ‘Russia’s errors’ had now become the world’s errors, and so the entire world now (Russia included) had needed to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


Some of the so-called Marian apparitions, including Akita (Japan) which is supposed to have been approved (even by pope Benedict XVI), speak of fearful catastrophes, including “hurricanes of fire”, with enormous loss of life – Akita apparently tells of “a great punishment, worse than the Flood”, with the living envying the dead. A glimpse of that, perhaps, has been in the news media in the past weeks [this was originally written back in 1990] with unstoppable fires raging throughout southern California, including Malibu, home to film stars. This hecatomb, “fanned by 160 km/h [Santa Ana] winds and bone-dry conditions”, has been described as “the Perfect Storm”, even “the Beast”, and, yes, “Hurricanes of Fire”, with more than 1600 houses and businesses destroyed and over half a million people evacuated.

“Just like the end of the world”, screamed one headline, above a fiery red scene of “Hellfire”, as it was also described. “San Diego firefighter Mitch Mendler said he had lost count of the number of houses that had burned. “It was nuclear winter – it was like Armageddon”, he said”.

But catastrophes like this are only a preview, or what Our Lord had called “the birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). Fatima does not talk just about land and houses burning, with only a small loss of human life, as in southern California, but about “the annihilation of several entire nations”. That means probably millions of people. This was conditional, of course, preceded by an “If …”.

Sadly, however,  as we are so painfully aware, Our Lady of Fatima is not really being heeded.

Did John Paul II have this in mind when he, discussing the state of our modern world, warned of the possibility of “a ‘new flood’”?


John Paul II’s ‘Act of Entrustment’



As is well known, pope John Paul II immediately after the assassination attempt, thought of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he himself composed his “Act of Entrustment”, which was to be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on 7 June 1981, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the day chosen to commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus. Since the Pope was unable to be present, his recorded Address was broadcast. The following is the part which refers specifically to the Act of Entrustment:


“Mother of all individuals and peoples, you know all their sufferings and hopes. In your motherly heart you feel all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, that convulse the world: accept the plea which we make in the Holy Spirit directly to your heart, and embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord those who most await this embrace, and also those whose act of entrustment you too await in a particular way. Take under your motherly protection the whole human family, which with affectionate love we entrust to you, O Mother. May there dawn for everyone the time of peace and freedom, the time of truth, of justice and of hope”…..


In order to respond more fully to the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Father desired to make more explicit during the Holy Year of the Redemption the Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, which had been repeated in Fatima on 13 May 1982. On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world, who had been “convoked” beforehand, entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in terms which recalled the heartfelt words spoken in 1981:


“O Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples. In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.

‘We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God!’ Despise not our petitions in our necessities”.


The Pope then continued more forcefully and with more specific references, as though commenting on the Message of Fatima in its sorrowful fulfilment:


“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of himself to the Father: ‘For their sake’, he said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19). We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this his consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, peoples and nations. It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken, and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history. How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church.

The present Year of the Redemption shows this: the special Jubilee of the whole Church.

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call!

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!

Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love!

Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart.

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!


From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.


Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”…..


The Five First Saturdays

(Communion of Reparation)


St. Paul said (1 Corinthians 9:16): “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”

And French philosopher Jacques Maritain said: “Woe to me if I do not Thomistize” [proclaim the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas].

Perhaps I must say: “Woe to us if we do not promote the Five First Saturdays”; a compendium of the Gospels (and also a purifying practice enabling for those called to Thomistize to do it well).


Perhaps, as with the Book of Esther, the critical world situation will come down to “the hour and moment and day of decision before God and among all the nations” (Mordecai’s Dream, 10:11), with Almighty God snatching the victory seemingly from the jaws of defeat.


The practice of the ‘Five First Saturdays’ is certainly going to be an integral part of this victory.




Michael Jensen: The peace of Christmas

Image result for nativity peace
We retell the story of the angels who heralded him with the chorus: “Peace on earth to those on whom God’s favour rests”.
Michael Jensen.

But, as the English author Francis Spufford writes: “Peace is not the norm; peace is rare.”
In 2017, we’ve been wondering whether we in Australia are within range of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un’s weapons, as his missiles have been flying over Japan.
We’ve had the unceasing round of terrorist attacks across the globe.
And we’ve been hoping that US President Donald Trump’s diplomacy by Twitter is not taking us to the brink of world conflict.
What’s more, we know bitter conflict all too well from more personal experiences of it.
Just ask a family law solicitor what the disintegration of a marriage can be like, or recall the pain of office politics, or a neighbourhood struggle to the death over property boundaries.
Perhaps the Christmas dinner table — supposedly a moment of family togetherness — will be another round of the decades-long war ­between those two aunties of yours.
A dying man once said to me: “I’ve prayed for peace on earth for 60 years. Why does it never happen?”
However much we hope and pray for peace on earth, it seems frustratingly elusive.
One problem is that when we try to make peace, we do so by finding a winner and loser.
Inevitably, one side slinks off in bitter resentment, and the hostilities resume.
Is the Christmas declaration of peace empty, since we human ­beings seem so addicted to fighting one ­another?
The Bible has a very particular ­diagnosis of why this is so. Our lack of peace with one another is a symptom of our lack of peace with God.
And it gives us that profound sense in ourselves that we are not at peace.
What’s the remedy?
We need to understand what Christ was about, for without him, the Christmas spirit proves to be nothing but a ghost. We’ll come to that in a moment, but first we need to understand what the Bible means by “peace”, or “shalom”.

MORE: These are what real Christmas miracles look like

It’s worth using that wonderful Hebrew word, which Jews use as a greeting because it’s a much richer word than our word “peace”. (Arabic speakers say “salaam”, which is the same word.)
Shalom is not simply the cessation of hostilities.
Shalom is when everything is in harmony with God, and so with everything else.
Shalom means that everything and everyone in the creation is doing what it’s made to do, playing its part like the players in a great orchestra producing beautiful music.
Shalom is the way everything is supposed to be. The divine vision for peace is not just universal, it involves the universe.
And shalom on earth — the Christmas good news — begins when there is an armistice between human beings and God. That’s where Christ, the Prince of Peace, comes in. What is it that he does to bring shalom?
Peace with God comes because the Prince of Peace reconciles us to God on the cross.
His victory does not mean our ­defeat; but he makes his victory our victory too. In himself he has ­absorbed human hostility against God, and now a truce has been ­declared. And what are the terms? Do we have to pay?
At end of World War I, Germany was forced to pay reparations to the value of $US33 billion.
It was a crushing burden that contributed to the rise of Nazism and the bloodbath of World War II.
But even though we are the rebels against God, it is not we who pay for the peace.
The Prince of Peace bears the cost himself, in himself, so that God’s peace — his shalom — may be ours.
And it’s not just peace that he brings, it’s shalom: that deep experience of the harmony of all things with their creator and between all things.
And through all this, you and I are invited into a deep experience of God’s shalom.
To know it in ourselves — “the peace which passes all understanding” as the New Testament calls it.
If we know truly that God’s peace in Jesus Christ — the Christmas shalom — and invite it into our very souls, we will become God’s agents for peace in a troubled world.
Peace on earth begins with the piece of earth on which you stand.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. It is not just up to the diplomats and politicians.
It’s too easy to blame them for war while we fail to recognise the conflict and unrest of our own lives.
Bringing about shalom is something that can start with us and in us.
If we really want to see a bit of Christmas cheer, we can seek to make peace a reality on Earth — in our families, in our neighbourhoods, and in our workplaces, as well as between nations.

Michael Jensen is the rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church Darling Point and the author of My God, My God — Is it Possible to Believe Anymore?