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 By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

 

Two of the three Fatima seers, Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco, died young because of the need for victim souls to give necessary fecundity to Our Lady’s plan. Their lives were proof that nothing great is done without suffering.

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Indeed, suffering helps those souls who are absorbed with themselves and unwilling to open up. We should see suffering as normal for man and we should practice it with courage and daring. The acceptance of sacrifice is necessary to combat the Hollywood myth of the “happy end.”

Jacinta and Francisco died as children by Our Lady’s design as she had foretold. The third seer, Lucia, lived for many more years. What was the reason why

Jacinta and Francisco died so early? This was obvious for they spoke openly about it.

The reason was that Fatima asked people to offer up their sufferings. It called for victim souls to associate themselves with the entire mystery of Fatima, and through their sufferings and pains help bring about all the supernatural fecundity Our Lady wanted to give to the events at Fatima. . This is exactly what happened to both children who died in extraordinarily difficult and arduous circumstances that caused them much suffering.

Such sufferings are needed because when it comes to the salvation of souls, all great works of God are done with the participation of men. In general, this is only accomplished with people willing to fight, suffer and pray for God’s work to be brought to its fruition.

In other words, sacrifice is necessary. Otherwise, nothing great is done.

The importance of this principle stood out especially at Fatima. Our Lady directly intervened there by performing stupendous miracles especially the “miracle of the sun.” She did this to underscore the fact that Fatima is one of the most important if not the most important message she has ever given in history.

On that occasion and in those circumstances, Our Lady wanted the sacrifice of two souls who would offer themselves up for the fulfillment of the plan of Divine Providence. This clearly shows how the apostolate of suffering is truly irreplaceable and how it opens up the way for the Church to act upon souls.

A German painter once painted Our Lord as the Good Shepherd knocking on the door of a simple house. Afterwards someone told him: “You made a mistake, for the door has no outside knob to get in.” He answered: “That’s true, but it is not a mistake. This door symbolizes the human heart. Our Lord knocks on it, but there is no knob outside, only inside. There are certain souls that open up only to themselves and to no one else, and in that case no one can intervene, they are really closed.”

Prayer and sacrifice are precisely the way to influence this type of person. They open up to the grace and find life when they suffer and carry the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ lovingly. They come to understand how normal it is to suffer. A person acquires greatness to the degree that he suffers. The great men in history are those who bear great sufferings for the love of God.

Clearly, this includes not only passive suffering like, for example, allowing another to strike us. It also means active suffering that is, taking the initiative in find suffering. This can be done by confronting bad public opinion or overcoming human respect. In short, it means accepting suffering entirely, embracing it fearlessly and daringly, and taking the initiative to look for ways to sacrifice for an ideal.  This is what it means to suffer par excellence and we should seek to do this.

The Hollywood myth of the “happy ending” is a great obstacle to accepting suffering and sacrifice. Not all things turn out well in the end as in the movies.

Not everything is joy and success. Thus, we should not look at suffering as a kind of seven-headed monster that invades people’s lives uninvited. To the contrary, we should realize that everyone suffers and a life without crosses is worthless. Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort goes so far as to say that when a person does not suffer, he should ask for crosses. For a person to whom God gives no sufferings should be wary of his eternal salvation.

All this comes across very clearly in the sacrifice made by Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco.

In this sense, we should frequently pray to them to ask Our Lady of Fatima to obtain for us this true sense of suffering that is indispensable for all those faithful who want to become generous and dedicated Catholics.

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 20, 2019

The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it...

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November 20

 

The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because
it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation,
because It gives us the Author of Grace;
it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself.

Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Edmund the Martyr

The barbarian leader, Ingvar, offered to let the King live o...

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St. Edmund the Martyr

Though only about fifteen years old when crowned in 855, Edmund showed himself a model ruler from the first, anxious to treat all with equal justice, and closing his ears to flatterers and untrustworthy informers. In his eagerness for prayer he retired for a year to his royal tower at Hunstanton and learned the whole Psalter by heart, in order that he might afterwards recite it regularly.

In 870 Edmund bravely repulsed the two Danish chiefs, Hinguar and Hubba, who had invaded his dominions. However, they soon returned with overwhelming numbers, and pressed terms upon him which as a Christian he felt bound to refuse. In his desire to avert a fruitless massacre, he disbanded his troops and himself retired towards Framlingham; on the way he fell into the hands of the invaders. Having loaded the king with chains, his captors conducted him to Hinguar, whose impious demands he again rejected, declaring his religion dearer to him than his very life.

His martyrdom took place in 870 at Hoxne in Suffolk. After beating him with cudgels, the Danes tied him to a tree, and cruelly tore his flesh with whips. Throughout these tortures Edmund continued to call upon the name of Jesus, until at last, exasperated by his constancy, his enemies began to discharge arrows at him. This cruel sport was continued until his body had the appearance of a porcupine, when Hinguar commanded his head to be struck off.

From his first burial-place at Hoxne his relics were removed in the tenth century to Beodricsworth, since called Bury St. Edmunds, where arose the famous abbey of that name. His feast is observed November 20, and he is represented in Christian art with sword and arrow, the instruments of his torture.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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