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Header - Fatima Seers - Best Lent Ever

Lent, that time of the liturgical year when Holy Mother Church calls on Catholics to fast and abstain from meat in the spirit of penance and self-denial, also encourages the faithful to meditate on the dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this penitential exercise, Our Lord Jesus Christ serves as our supreme model- He led the way of mortification by denying Himself sustenance for forty days and forty nights in preparation for the commencement of His public ministry. He, who has most tender compassion for humble and repentant sinners, assures us, “I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.” Luke 5:32. And in a supreme act of immolation, Our Lord offered Himself in sacrifice for our salvation and accepted His suffering humanity for the redemption of the world.

In light of the above, how are we to model our Lenten practices in the spirit of the Fatima message?

 

1.    During Lent, Fatima’s constant theme of prayer, penance and amendment of life becomes ever more relevant in our daily lives.

Nowadays, many are accustomed to the conveniences that technological progress provides. Fast food, TV dinners, cell phones, ATM’s, express delivery, Internet, email, on-line shopping, etc – modern inventions that fuel that frenetic desire to get things done quickly and easily. Everything comes at one’s fingertips at one’s beckoning. And voila! The recurring mantra jumps out, “I want it and I want it NOW.”  In short, no fuss, no delay; period!

 

•    The appeal of the Seven Capital Sins

In a fast paced world as such, instant gratification is the rule.  Sadly, it also opens the door wide to sin and vice. The myriad of ads that one watches or reads these days appeal in more ways than one to the seven capital sins.  A new facial anti-wrinkle cream flatters a 50-year-old’s vanity; a luscious and tantalizing food product feeds one’s gluttonous tendencies; the Jones’ new car spur’s one envy; an exotic perfume wakes up ones passion and lust; a sales pitch for faster delivery service mitigates one’s anger over a previously botched job; and so it goes down the line.

 

•    Our Ruling Passions

From another vantage view, each individual suffers from a ruling passion or vice that dominates all others and, frequently causes one to fall from grace. Be it pride or sensuality, intemperance, a loose tongue or what not, we know, more or less, our own weaknesses. Thankfully by the grace of God, Lent offers the opportunity for one to tackle this or that defect through serious reflection, prayer and the practice of mortification.

Would it burden us much if we cease to be creatures of comfort starting this Lenten season and mortify our senses for the good of our souls? Let us turn to the children of Fatima for inspiration and courage.

 

2.    Exemplary models of penance and sacrifice

The Angel of Portugal taught the children the virtue of asking pardon for evildoers through prayer and offering sacrifices. He impressed upon them the compelling need to make reparation for the insults, sacrileges and indifference committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Our Lady of Fatima consistently asked the children for prayers of reparation and sacrifice for poor sinners which culminated in the vision of hell that had a profound and lasting effect on them.  Having seen the horrors and torments of everlasting infernal fire, the seers were transformed into heroes of mortification and penance.

 

•    A belt of rope as self torment

The children devised innovative ways as they see them fit to observe mortified lives. Lucia found a rope one day and suggested it to be cut into three pieces so each of the seers could wear them continuously around their waists. This they practiced with such zeal that it bothered them in their sleep. Pleasing at it was to God, Our Lady had to intervene later and asked them to remove them at night.

 

•    Suffering Hunger

Francisco thought it a good sacrifice to give their lunches to the sheep and in later days to poor children they met along the way. Thus they fasted much like in the spirit of austere monks. They thrived admirably on acorns from holm oak and oak trees, pine nuts, roots, berries, mushrooms and other things harvested from the roots of pine trees.

 

•    Suffering Thirst

On one occasion, Lucia and the other two children, while suffering from severe thirst, decided to forego drinking from a jar of water that Lucia fetched from a nearby house and poured it instead into a hollow in a stone for the sheep to drink.

 

•    Self-Inflicted pain

On other occasions, they would hit their own legs with nettles, "so as to offer to God yet another sacrifice."

Such were the edifying examples of mortification the child seers practiced because of their deep understanding of the urgent necessity of acts of reparation and sacrifices to appease Divine Justice and to mitigate the injuries perpetrated against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Let us take all these to heart and apply them to our own situation keeping in mind the widespread decadence corroding the moral well-being of our contemporary times. It is undeniable that much penance and prayers are needed to atone for all these transgressions. One needs just to open the newspaper or watch the nightly news to find proofs.

 

3.    Adopting realistic resolutions appropriate for our condition and times

The messages revealed in the apparitions to the three Portuguese children by the Angel of Portugal and the Queen of Heaven and Earth all speak of the gravity of the sins and crimes of mankind - a tragedy that begs for serious and resolute atonement and conversion to appease the wrath of God. To avert a terrible chastisement, Our Lady asks men to pray ardently for the conversion of sinners and to offer many expiatory sacrifices.

 

•    A sense of urgency and a call to action

We must take this warning with utmost seriousness and immediacy.  It is a standing message for our times directed to all men.

The seers of Fatima responded to this call by making heroic acts of penance and reparation for they fully grasped the meaning of appeasing Divine wrath. Let us follow their lead and reconcile the Fatima message with the real moral crisis staring at us blankly.

 

•    No easy way out

What has been written here so far would be put to waste if our intellect fails to change our mentality and move our will to make steadfast resolutions. If the service of God consisted only in fulfilling certain obligations, devotional practices and prescribed prayers compatible to a life of ease and comfort, then the Church would be flooded with new-found saints.

But such is not the case. Sadly, it is our human nature to shun sufferings, to avoid pain and to be self-satisfied with whatever little progress we gain in the spiritual life. Let us shed our false optimism. Let us cast our tepidity and lukewarm spirit. With a changed mentality, let us replace our misconceptions with a sincere abiding sorrow for our sins.

 

•    Carrying the Cross

Take heart in the Divine counsel, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.

The cross is the embodiment of the Gospel and the glorious standard of a true Christian. And by carrying our cross, we must humble ourselves and look at ourselves as our greatest enemy; with whom we ought to wage a continual war for the rest of our lives.

 

Jesus - Crucifix

 

WOC Devotional Set Flag 

 

The current situation and the message of Fatima place the above reflections in a different perspective. Whatever self denial or sacrifice we choose to practice, we must perform with humility and prudence. Lent or otherwise, we must imbue ourselves with a lasting penitential spirit in face of the unabated moral chaos besetting mankind for, indeed, we are in extraordinary times!

And lastly, let us turn Our Lady for inspiration, strength and fortitude, always hoping in Her promise at Fatima,

“Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 8, 2020

Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes...

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April 8

Every virtue in your soul
is a precious ornament
which makes you dear to God and to man.
But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue,
is a jewel so precious
that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven,
even though clothed in mortal flesh.

St. John Bosco

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

 

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Julie Billiart

She was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on...

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St. Julie Billiart

Born on July 12, 1751 in Cuvilly, France, Marie Rose Julie Billiard was the daughter of fairly well-to-do peasant farmers who also owned a small shop. From early childhood Julie had a keen interest in spiritual things and by seven years of age she had memorized the catechism and attained an understanding of it beyond her years.

During her youth, her father’s shop was robbed and her father attacked. This so traumatized his daughter that she became ill and gradually a physical paralysis took hold of her. Deprived of the use of her legs, she eventually had great difficulty in even speaking. Julie's paralysis lasted for twenty-two years, and throughout this whole trial she continued to teach her beloved catechism to children and to trust unwaveringly in the everlasting goodness of “le bon Dieu”. Her infirmities drove her to an even deeper life of prayer and union with God.

During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution when the pastor of Cuvilly was superseded by a constitutional priest sworn to the new atheistic government, Julie influenced her friends and neighbors to boycott the intruder. Though an invalid herself, she worked to hide and assist fugitive priests who remained loyal to the Catholic Church, and for this charitable work she was herself persecuted and obliged to escape from place to place – on one occasion, hiding all night under a haystack.

While taking refuge with the aristocratic family of Gézaincourt, Julie met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman who had barely escaped the guillotine by the fall of Robespierre before her execution. The two became close friends and collaborators.

After the Terror, they both dedicated themselves to the spiritual care of poor children, and the Christian education of girls in a generation sorely neglected by the ravages of the Revolution.

In 1804, after a novena to Him, Julie Billiart was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now physically free to pursue a full range of activity, her educational work increased rapidly.

At odds with the bishop of Amiens through the meddling influence of a misguided young priest, Julie and Françoise were obliged to move to Namur, in present-day Belgium, where with the full support of the local bishop, they proceeded with their work, eventually founding the Institute of Notre Dame de Namur, today in sixteen countries around the world.

Julie Billiart died on April 8, 1816 while praying the Magnificat. She was canonized in 1969.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort...

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And He Stole Heaven

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.
 
On his left hung another man, covered in the matted blood of his wounds. Yet, with the exception of a few intermittent words, there was no sound from him.

As time passed, the thief became more and more engrossed in the silent crucified beside him, and less and less in his own plight.St Dismas Picture

Indeed life is ironic, mused Dismas, this man who had lived in the open, and was acclaimed as a healer and even as a king, now hung beside him who had spent his life lurking and hiding.

And now they were lifted up, both on a high parallel. He could see the roof tops of the city, he could see the highways he had stalked, and he could see the way they had walked. Now he looked down on those gathered around this place of execution, the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the curious, the friends of the man beside him…and a young man supporting a lady directly beneath them...

And then he knew her; that upturned face, that maidenly majesty now wracked by sorrow, her tear-filled eyes fastened on the man on his left–Yes, he knew that face.

As the wheels of time rolled back in his mind,  his heart gave a jolt as he remembered that blessed day in the desert, decades ago, when a young family making its way to Egypt, sought refuge for the night in his family’s hovel. The man was strong and kind, the woman was the fairest his child’s eyes had seen, and she carried a golden haired babe, as if nothing in the universe was more precious.

He remembered the lady’s gaze on him, her beautiful eyes full of concern for the leprous sores on his young body. Then she and his mother talked. And next, he was being bathed in the same water the lady had just washed her infant son.

And then the sores were gone.  His mother wept for joy, and kissed the lady’s hands, and the baby’s feet. And even his robber-father was moved, and offered the strong man and his family the best in the house.

Now, in one revealing flash, he knew the identity of the wounded man on his left.  He looked again at the lady, and her eyes, those same sweet eyes of old, were on him once more.  
He felt his heart quiver, as the power of gratitude filled his being and softened his criminal soul.  And then came tears, rivers of tears.  When he could speak, he turned to the left,

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And the Lord turned his face to him, His divine eyes on him, and he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard, a voice at once full of pain and full of strength, full of sweetness and full of majesty, a judge’s voice, and a father’s voice,

“Amen, amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”

 

By Andrea F. Phillips
Based on: A Legend of St. Dismas and Other Poems,
Copyright by P. J. Kenedy and Sons. 1927, p. 18.

 

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He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.

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