Saturday, September 28, 2013


Next month, on October 13th, Pope Francis is going to dedicate the world to Our Lady of Rosary. The Original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima is travelling to Rome for the dedication of this historic ceremony. The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima is going around the whole world as ambassador of peace and reinforcing the message of Mary for Conversion.

The apparitions of the Virgin of Fatima in 1917 were in some respects a direct response to a plea from Pope Benedict XV, who implored the intercession of the Blessed Mother in bringing the great First World War to a halt. On May 5, 1917, the Pope sent out a pastoral letter to the world, in which he asked the faithful to petition Mary the Mother of mercy in “this awful hour”. Within eight days, on May 13, the Mother of Mercy appeared at Fatima with her own “peace plan” for the world. In the third of the Fatima apparitions, the Virgin said that the present war would come to an end (something that most people found unbelievable at the time), but a new and greater war would begin during the papacy of Pius XI.

After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1908, Portugal was ruled by anti Christian groups who killed nearly seventeen hundred priests, nuns and monks between 1911 and 1916. Public religious ceremonies were forbidden. It was into this unpromising environment that Our Lady of the Rosary made her world-changing entrance.

The Fatima apparitions were preceded by three appearances of the Guardian Angel of Portugal, in which he prepared the three tiny sheep-herder visionaries (Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia) for the coming of the Mother of God. The apparitions of the angel were followed by six apparitions of the Virgin to the three children from May 13 to October 13, 1917, and numerous subsequent appearances and messages to Lucia.  The apparitions were public events so that even the onlookers were aware of something extraordinary taking place, most especially on October 13, 1917.

The first secret of the Fatima was a vision of Hell, and the second secret was the revelation of the importance of devotion to the Immaculate Heart. The children were also given a third secret, which has never been revealed, although its contents have been a frequent subject of speculation. .

The fourth apparition scheduled for August 13 did not take place as planned as the children were kidnapped by the district authorities for three days and so it took place on August 19th on a different location.

By October 13, the whole country had heard of Fatima. Seventy thousand people had arrived at the Cova. The night before, a terrible storm swept through Europe, and it was still raining by noon of the 13th. When the Lady appeared to the visionaries, she said she was the Lady of the Rosary, that she wanted a chapel built at the Cova, and that people must amend their lives and not offend the Lord since He was already greatly offended. Then she stretched out her hands again and rays of light went toward the sun. Thus began the famous miracle of the sun. The sun now seemed to be a silver disk and multitudes could look straight into it without shading their eyes. Suddenly it started shooting off different colored rays in all directions and then spinning on its axis. And then just as suddenly it seemed to be hurtling toward the earth. The terrified onlookers dropped to their knees, convinced that the end had come and many sought forgiveness for their sins. Just when it seemed that there would be cataclysmic collision, the sun returned to its normal position and everything was as before. The miracle of the sun was witnessed not just by those in the Cova but by people thirty miles away. With this magnificent display, the apparitions of Fatima came to an end.

Franciso died in April 1919 and Jacinta in February 1920 as was predicted by Our Lady. Both were victims of the great global influenza epidemic. Jacinta heroically endured excruciating pain in the last months of her life, and her body was found to be incorrupt when it was exhumed in 1935 and 1950.

In 1925 both the Virgin and the Christ child appeared to Lucia. At this time, Jesus asked the whole world to institute the practice of reparation to the immaculate Heart on the first Saturdays of every month: those who for five consecutive first Saturdays received communion, went for reconciliation, recited five decades of the Rosary, and meditated for fifteen minutes on mysteries of the Rosary, all in reparation to the Immaculate Heart, would receive graces required for salvation. In 1929, the Virgin told Sister Lucia that this was the time for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.
At the request of Sister Lucia, the bishops of Portugal consecrated their country to the Immaculate Heart in 1938- and with good reason it is believed that, as a result of this act, Portugal was not drawn into the Second World War. Lucia entered the Carmelite order in 1948 and she died on Feb.14, 2005 at the age of 97.

Pope John Paul the Second was shot on May 13th ,  1981 and he miraculously escaped death and he believed that the assailant could not kill him, because he chose the wrong date, the first day of apparitions in Portugal. And the bullet that hit him is added to the statue on the crown of Our Lady of Fatima. The smith who originally made the crown left just enough space for the bullet to be fixed on the crown with out having it to be re-modeled. He didn’t know how this happened. And this crown was made from the wedding rings and jewels sent by the women of Portugal in gratitude for saving their husbands and sons in World War II. Portugal remained neutral in World War II and did not get involved in war.

Our Lady intervened in history a lot of times. None of the world religions has any tradition or even concept of such phenomenon and it stands in a class of its own without analogy or replication in the history of religions. In his book, Miracles of Mary, Michael S.Durham writes that “the Virgin Mary appeared more than 21 thousand times in the past ten centuries. That includes her apparition at Falmouth. The Month of October is the rosary month, and we will be saying rosary 20 minutes before each Mass on Sundays. October 7th is the feast of Our Lady of Rosary. It was earlier known as the feast of Our Lady of Victory. It was instituted in commemoration of the victory of Lepanto, a war won against the Turks who almost overrun the Western Europe. On the invitation of the pope Christians all over the world said the rosary unanimously and the Christian Europe was able to defeat the Muslims. Otherwise majority of the world would have been Muslim now. Mary’s intercession is always powerful before God.  And she constantly intercedes for her children. Let’s teach all our children the Memorare: Let’s say it together now:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. 
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions, but in thy clemency hear and answer me.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

XXIV-C- Ex 32: 7-11, 13, 14; I Tm 1: 12-17; Lk 15: 1-32
Everyone has lost something at one time or another. There is even a website complete with mobile app,, that acts as a global ‘lost and found’ box. Users can report items missing and users can report items found. It is a good example of how technology can help people connect in a useful way. This is a gateway site for all of the physical things that can be retrieved and returned to their rightful owners. According to their statistics, about twice as many objects have been reported lost as have been reported found in the U.S. So, the site’s users are losing things at twice the rate they are finding them.
Haven’t we all had the experience of losing things that we know deep down we will never recover? Depending on the situation, we can feel disappointed, heartbroken, hopeless, or simply discouraged by our own inability to keep up with things. Isn’t it a wonderful relief to know that we will never fall into the ‘Lost Forever’ category? Isn’t it reassuring to know that God will never give up on us?
Today’s readings remind us that God actively seeks out the lost, wants their repentance and rejoices when the lost are found. God is eager to be merciful toward us, not vengeful and punishing. Our God has always been a God of mercy and patience, a God who seeks out the lost, as shown in the experience of Israel in the desert (the first reading), and through the amazing mercy shown to Paul, the former persecutor of the Church (the second reading).
Paul acknowledges the fact that he had wandered from the truth and rejoices that God first found him, then commissioned him to preach the Good News of God’s unconditional love, calling every prodigal home. Like John Newton, the eighteenth century English composer of Amazing Grace, Paul declared his past openly. . . “I once was lost”. . . “I once was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance” (v. 13). Calling himself, “the worst of sinners,” and, “an extreme case,” (vv. 15, 16), Paul invites us to marvel at the mercy of God, and to find hope and help for dealing with our own need for conversion.
We too are no strangers to sin. Proverb (24:16) says a just man falls seven times a day and rises again. We do not want to sin but we do. We can overcome this only if we allow the word of God to penetrate us and show up the dark spots in our lives so that we can bring them to the Lord for his healing and forgiveness. 
Ralph Milton tells of the teacher who, for reasons of her own, asked the kids one day, "If all the bad children were painted red and all the good children were painted green, which color would you be?"
Think about it. What color would you be? Red or Green? It is a tough question isn't it when you pose only two options.
One very wise child answered the teacher: "Striped"
It seems to me that in the frame of the story - everyone but Jesus is striped. It is the same in the world today. We are a curious combination of the lost and the found. We are striped. We are, in some sense, not completely lost. We are folks in the middle, as most of us are most of the time. 
Rarely are we completely lost. And rarely are we completely found. There is always a part of us that needs to be dragged and cajoled into the light, and there is always a part of us that is already there in the light. For some it is more and for some it is less, but always some part.
Like the younger son, we need to come to our senses, and realize that we are dying of hunger for the food of heaven, Jesus himself. He is the one who, as St Paul tells us, gives us strength and calls us into his service regardless of our past and present sins.
Let this Sunday be a Sunday of self-reflection, assessment and correction.   If we have been in sin, God, in His mercy, is ready to receive and welcome us back, no less than Jesus welcomed sinners in his time.   Let us pray today that we will allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives.   Let us also ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As forgiven prodigals, we must be forgiving people. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God's divine mercy on those who have fallen away from grace.  May their ears be opened so that they may hear that Jesus is welcoming them back home.