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Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto

By Seth Hakes

 

On the morning of May 13th, 2017, perhaps the most amazing event that happened at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal was the canonization of Jacinta Marto and her brother, Francisco. They became the youngest children to be canonized (who are not martyrs) in nearly 2,000 years of Christianity.

How did these two children achieve Christian perfection at such young ages? How did they acquire virtues in the heroic degree which took other saints a lifetime of asceticism to achieve? How did Our Lady transform these two children into great saints?

 

Transformation from Child to Saint

The saints agree that perfect obedience requires giving up one’s own will. Saints Francisco and Jacinta adhered faithfully to Mary’s will at the least prompting. Her apparitions gave their lives a higher purpose and transformed them in a matter of months. One sign of this transformation is a change of will. Our Lady told them to pray and they did. Our Lady asked them to offer sacrifices and they did. They did numerous penances such as wearing coarse ropes directly against their skin all the time. Even when the rope cut into their skin and the pain it caused prevented them from sleeping at night, they wouldn’t relent from practicing such a severe penance. However, when Our Lady instructed them not to wear the ropes at night, they again obeyed.

Another remarkable transformation took place in the very hearts of Jacinta and Francisco. The children’s only desire was to please Mary. They were willing to do anything for love of Jesus and Mary, offering penances of hunger, thirst, discomfort and the constant harassment of disbelievers.

One radical example of the very real persecution they endured occurred on August 13, 1917. On their way to their fourth appointment with Our Lady, the three children were abducted by the administrator of Ourém. During their imprisonment, the other prisoners wanted to distract Jacinta by singing and dancing with her. She quickly tired of this. In order to do something more pleasing to Mary, Jacinta hung her Brown Scapular on the wall, invited everyone in the prison cell to kneel before it, and they all prayed the Rosary.

Even when the administrator threatened to throw them in a cauldron of boiling oil if they didn’t reveal the secret Our Lady entrusted to them, these children chose death rather than displeasing Our Lady. To live or to die no longer mattered to them. To please Jesus and Mary became their only concern.

To read more about the fourth apparition of Our Lady - Click here!

 

Mary Changed Their Lives and Dreams

It is known that these children were not always little saints. They began as very typical children. One example of this is that, before the Angel of Peace appeared to them, they prayed an abbreviated version of the rosary. Instead of saying each prayer, they would simply say the words “Our Father” and “Hail Mary.” In this way, they were able to get back to their games all the sooner. Mary radically changed their lives. What they used to see as a chore was now a source of spiritual nourishment. They soon burned with the desire to pray the Rosary, not just every day, but many times throughout the day.

All children grow up full of hopes and expectations. Some will dream of becoming famous like a professional athlete or an actor. Others dream of becoming rich. Others dream of something more honorable like becoming a firefighter, a policeman, a professor or a war hero. Surely, Francisco and Jacinta had their childhood dreams as well.

But, when Our Lady appeared to them, any dream they may have had vanished. They no longer dreamed about the joys of the world. Their only joy was to obey Mary’s will. They no longer hoped for a long, full and happy life. Their only hope was to go to Heaven. They no longer dreamed of fame or riches. Their only dream was to please God, console the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and convert and save sinners.

 

They Made Her Heart Theirs

How were such young children transformed into great saints? The answer seems to be an invitation and a challenge to everyone, especially children, for all times. They simply made Mary’s will their will. They made her desires their desires. They made her hopes and dreams theirs. In short, they made her heart theirs. Perhaps, this is the best explanation of what devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 4, 2020

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pa...

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April 4

 

Confession heals, confession justifies,
confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy.
Believe it firmly.
Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.
Hope and have confidence in confession.

St. Isidore of Seville


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Isidore of Seville

Considered the most learned man of his age, and the greatest...

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St. Isidore of Seville

Isidore’s father was probably of Roman origin. From Cartagena in Spain, he was connected to the Visigothic kings. Isidore’s much older brother was St. Leander, Bishop of Seville. Another brother, St. Fulgentium, was also a bishop, and his sister, St. Florentina, was the abbess of many convents.

It is probable that upon the death of his older brother, Isidore succeeded Leander in the diocese of Seville.

During the thirty-seven years of Isidore's episcopate, which spanned the reign of six kings, he completed the work begun by his brother of converting the Visigoths from Arianism to Catholicism.

Considered the most learned man of his age, and the greatest teacher in Spain, Isidore established the foundations for Spain’s educational system. This included a seminary or cathedral school in every diocese, with a curriculum that encompassed not only theology and philosophy but every known branch of knowledge: law, liberal arts, medicine, Hebrew and Greek. Isidore was also a prodigious writer.

As he felt his end drawing near, in the company of two bishops he visited a church where he had one bishop cover him with sackcloth and the other pour ashes on his head. Raising his hands to heaven, he loudly begged God to forgive his sins. He then received the last rites, asked those present to pray for him, forgave his debtors, exhorted all to charity and distributed the rest of his possessions to the poor.

Returning home he died peacefully shortly after. St. Isidore of Seville was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1722.

Photo by: Luis García

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is...

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Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?

Question:  I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for the worse.

I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.

But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer, saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no real value?

Answer:  God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.

Our part is to ask. How must we ask?

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.

So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”

One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all, faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the time for full enjoyment.


Answering Atheists and Agnostics
As for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know God.

In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.

We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming.

Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.

Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such people might start believing purely out of self-interest.

They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us unending happiness in Heaven.

"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God."  Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.

 

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I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists,

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