Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fatima: A City Clothed with the Sun


By Tonia Long

It was the afternoon of October 12th, the evening before the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the sun. Expectation hung in the air as the plaza at the Fatima shrine filled with pilgrims from around the world.
Our job: to arrange nearly 30,000 red and white roses on the esplanade as an offering to the Mother of God.
Knowing that each red rose represented the dedication and love of a Rosary Rally Captain, and each white rose represented the devotion and love of Rosary Rally Sponsors, we took special care in order to make a magnificent presentation. The presence of such a vast number of flowers could not help but draw the attention of many pilgrims who stopped to ask where the roses came from.

With great pleasure we explained the America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally Captain program and the number of Rallies being held in America on the 14th in honor of the Mother of God. Even with the inevitable language barrier that exists in a multi-national crowd, the smiles that followed our explanation showed they were pleased to know that devotion to Our Lady of Fatima is alive and well in the U.S.A.
About an hour later our first mission was accomplished and it was time to tackle our next objective: the delivery of three large plastic bins of hand-written prayer intentions to the feet of she who loves to answer the prayers of her children. In the long trek from the car to the Basilica, we were thankful for the prudent purchase of a small hand dolly which made carrying such precious cargo a little easier!
The time for the candlelight vigil ceremony was fast approaching, as evidenced by the number of pilgrims who continued to flood the plaza as the sun began to sink in the sky.
We hastily made our way back to the car to retrieve the America Needs Fatima name banner. Knowing that many of our friends and supporters would have liked to come to Fatima with us, we offered to have their names carried during the candlelight ceremony. No less than 16,352 devout Catholics took us up on the offer and their names were carried high above the candles that flickered like so many stars across the shrine. My friends and I prayed very specially for all those whose name we carried during the candlelight procession. It is truly a touching moment; to see so many thousands of candles, so much devotion to the Mother of God all in one place. After many hours, the ceremonies came to a close and it was well past midnight when we made our way wearily back to our lodging for the night.


The morning of October 13th dawned with a slight haze across the sky. Where was the sun? Never fear! It made a glorious appearance just as Holy Mass began! Once again we entered a plaza simply packed to the brim with devotees of Mother Mary. Of course, we were too far from the altar to see what was happening, but large screens were provided to the left and right of the altar so that even those at the back of the crowd could participate in the Mass. When the time arrived for receiving Holy Communion, hundreds of priests penetrated the crowd to bring the healing Body of Christ to all.
The sun shone brightly at its zenith. It was 12:00 noon and we were there to witness a new miracle—the Miracle of the Son, as with quiet reverence members of the Body of Christ, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands, received their Eucharistic Lord.

Our strength renewed, we set about our final act of devotion on behalf of all our America Needs Fatima friends and supporters. Carrying two three-foot-tall red candles, we made our way to the votive sanctuary. These two candles represented the prayers of thousands of our dear friends who had returned their small candles to America Needs Fatima to be used to make the large candles we now carried. Evidently very large and very special, our candles once again attracted the attention of the other pilgrims. Many asked where they could purchase such beautiful candles! Saying a special prayer of thanksgiving for all those who made our pilgrimage possible, we lit the large red candles and placed them carefully among the others, their flames flickering in silent testimony to the love that burns in the hearts of so many Americans for Our Lady of Fatima.

One hundred years have passed since the Mother of God came to deliver to mankind her plan for peace: prayer, penance and conversion. Sadly, mankind continues tragically slow to respond to her call. With renewed confidence in her love for us, let us all multiply our efforts to make Our Mother and her Fatima message known and loved across America and around the world. It is up to each one of us, through our correspondence to grace and the Fatima message, to speed up the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart over mankind as she predicted at Fatima.

No matter how burdened you may be

If you desire peace in your hearts,
in your homes, and in your country,
assemble each evening to recite the Rosary.
Let not even one day pass without saying it,
no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.

Pope Pius XI

St. Luke the Evangelist

Luke was not a Jew but a Gentile, and thought to have been a Greco-Syrian, probably born in Antioch. Though one of the four Gospel writers – known as the Evangelists – he was not one of Christ's Twelve Apostles. Whether he converted to Christianity from Judaism or paganism is not certain.

He was a disciple and companion of the Apostle Paul who mentions that he was also a medical man, “Luke, the most dear physician” and he probably helped St. Paul with his much-tried health. Luke was certainly with the great apostle in his first two imprisonments in Rome.

According to tradition, the physician and Evangelist was also an artist and painted several pictures of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Among the most famous is the Salus Populi Romani enshrined in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Not only is the third Gospel, written in Koine Greek, attributed to Luke by the early fathers, but Biblical scholars are in wide agreement that he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. While traditional Christian scholarship dates the writing of his Gospel to the 60’s, others place it in the last decades of the first century.

St. Luke is believed to have died a martyr though accounts of his death vary.

He is venerated as St. Luke the Evangelist and his symbol is the bull. He is patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students, and butchers.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

America Prays the Rosary



21,570 Public Square Rosary Rallies took place here in America in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal.  These Rosary Rallies all across America were a unanimous prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of America.

Instead of beginning our day in the rain-soaked fields of the Cova da Iria, just outside of the pastoral village of Fatima, we were situated in Fountain Square, an urban park in the heart of Cincinnati, surrounded by skyscrapers on all sides, each one peering down upon us, accompanied by acres upon acres of concrete and asphalt, instead of fields of grazing sheep. 
 Our event, like that of Fatima, commenced at 12:00 noon, but in an urban park rather than the fields of Portugal.  While we did not have a gathering of over 70,000 people like those who crowded into the pasture lands of Fatima, we did have well over 400 people who braved the interstate traffic with its ubiquitous orange traffic barrows and the crowded city streets of an urban setting, navigating through the confusing parking garages to make their way to the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the last public apparition at Fatima.   
 
New York City, Rosary Rally - October 14, 2017 - 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics prayed the Rosary in public to beg God and the Blessed Mother to save America. In 21,570 public places from coast to coast, Catholics associated with America Needs Fatima held Public Square Rosary Rallies. 
 Rosary Rally in Austin, Texas. The October 14, 2017 National Rosary Rally was most likely the largest Rosary Rally ever to bless the land of the brave.
Castle Shannon, PA - Rosary Rallies varied in number from 5 to 500 participants and Our Blessed Mother of Fatima was honored in all of them.
 
 From Rosary Rally Captain Leorosie Nabor T. We held 2 rosary rallies in Cresson, PA.  One was held yesterday with our All Saints Catholic School children here in Cresson, PA and another one was held today at noon.  Thank you for giving us this opportunity to pray the rosary in public.  God bless you!
Jersey City, New Jersey
"As people turn away from God, we’re seeing new levels of sin and chaos. Plus, it is harder to find solutions to our nation's growing moral problems," remarked Francis Slobodnik, national coordinator of the 2017 Public Square Rosary Crusade. "World events are spiraling out of control. Society is splintering. We're suffering from the evil consequences of sexual immorality, abortion and same-sex 'marriage,'" Slobodnik said. "We must turn back to God and ask Our Lady for supernatural solutions. There is an urgent need for amendment of life and penance. If only we'd do what she requested at Fatima, people would get the courage and wisdom to turn things around in America."
Escondido, CA
In California alone, 3,304 America Needs Fatima members registered to hold a Public Square Rosary Rally.
Rancho Penasquitos, CA
Gorham, Maine
America Needs Fatima first launched the Rosary Rally campaign in 2007 with 2,100 Rosary Rallies. Eleven years later 21,570 covered our Nation with Rosaries.
Hazleton, PA
Rally Captain Jack Burnham reported on comments heard during his rally in Hazleton, PA.  "Thank you for all you do. We have to pray for our Faith. This strengthens my faith in our Lady and the Church". Another said, "This is very encouraging. It enlivens my hope for America."
Nashville, TN
Miami, FL
 From Rosary Rally Captain Sergio de Paz. Arrived at 9am knowing the USA Government FEMA was advertising an event there. They allowed me in when I mentioned I was going for another event, "Fatima Rosary Rally". Traffic was bumper to bumper getting jammed as people were not allowed to enter for anything. By 10am people started calling me, "Park is closed can't get in".  I started sending them to other Rallies like Coral Gables and another in Coral Way and 87 Ave, all close by. Then Our Lady Intervened. By 11:30am a group of about 12 people arrived. I am a Rosary Captain and we begged the police to let us in and they did, then some of the FEMA people stayed with us. After that, a nurse and another gentlemen drove by in the traffic jam, saw Our Lady, found a place to park and walked back to join us in the Rosary and they stayed late after we finished. 
CALM, CONFIDENCE, COURAGE!
Raritan, NJ
 
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...  21,570 Red Roses were delivered to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. One Red Rose in honor of and for the intentions of each of the brave Rally Captains.



How to console a suffering soul

In order to console a soul in its sufferings,
point out to it all the good it can still do.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius, born in Syria, converted to Christianity at a young age, and was thought to be a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. He is one of the five Apostolic Church Fathers, who were instructed personally by Christ’s apostles.

An early tradition has it that he was the child that Our Lord took up in his arms, as recorded by St Mark: “And taking a child, he set him in the midst of them. Whom when he had embraced, he saith to them: Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name, receiveth me (9:35-36).

Consecrated bishop by the Apostles, he succeeded St. Peter and Evodius as the third Bishop of Antioch about the year 69.

An ideal pastor and true soldier of Christ, Ignatius comforted and strengthened his flock when the persecution of Domitian broke out. He was arrested during the persecution of Trajan, and shipped aboard a vessel bound for Rome. Along the route his ship made several stops, which afforded the saint opportunity of confirming the faith of various churches. He wrote several letters to these communities which have been preserved, and deal with early Catholic theology. St. Ignatius was the first to use the Greek word “katholikos”, “universal” in reference to the Church founded by Christ.

At Smyrna, he had the joy of meeting his former disciple and dear friend, St. Polycarp. His route to martyrdom was a sort of triumphant march, with Christian communities flocking to meet him everywhere, hailing and encouraging him on his way.
He was martyred in Rome on the last day of the public games, December 20 in the year 107. Condemned to be devoured by lions in the public arena, his prayer before his death was: “I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ. Indeed the lions devoured all of his body leaving only the large bones.

Today, these relics of St. Ignatius rest in the Church of San Clemente in Rome.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Three Streams of the Sacred Heart

From this Divine Heart three streams flow endlessly.
The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts
sentiments of contrition and repentance.
The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids
those seeking perfection to find the means of surmounting their difficulties.
From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of His friends
who have attained perfection; these He wishes to unite to Himself
so that they may share His knowledge and commandments
and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing His glory.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Margaret Mary was born in the small Burgundian town of L’Hautecour in France, the fifth of seven children of Claude Alacoque, a notary, and his wife, Philliberte Lamyn.

Her father died when she was eight and she was sent to school with the Poor Clares. She was immediately attracted to their way of life and so exemplary was her piety that she was allowed to make her First Communion at the age of nine – an unusual privilege at the time.

Struck by a very painful rheumatic illness, which confined her to bed until the age of fifteen, the young girl returned to L’Hautecour only to find her family home occupied by several relatives who proceeded to treat her mother and herself almost like servants.

By the age of twenty, she was being pressured by these relatives to marry. Strengthened and supported by a vision of Our Lord, she refused.

Margaret did not receive Confirmation until she was twenty-two, but once she was fortified by the sacrament, she bravely confronted and decisively overcame her family's remaining opposition to her religious vocation, and entered the Monastery of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial in 1671.

Deeply devoted to the Passion of Our Lord and to the Holy Eucharist, Margaret felt sensibly the presence of Our Lord. On December 27, 1673, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the convent chapel, she felt Our Lord inviting her to step into the place taken by St. John the Beloved at the Last Supper near His Heart.

This first communication was followed by several others during a period of eighteen months in which Our Lord Jesus revealed and expanded to her the devotion to His Most Sacred Heart in which He wished His Heart to be honored under the form of a heart of flesh. He also asked for the Communion of Reparation on the nine First Fridays of the month, and an hour vigil on Thursdays.

Margaret Mary suffered misunderstanding and persecution from within her religious community as she attempted to reveal Our Lord’s wishes. Falling ill under the strain, her superior promised to heed her if she was healed, both of which came to pass.

Further supported by the spiritual guidance of the Jesuit, St. Claude de la Colombière, who while visiting Paray-le-Monial recognized both Margaret’s sanctity and her message, the new devotion began to gradually spread throughout France and the world.

Margaret Mary Alacoque died in October of 1690 and was canonized in 1920.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let nothing disturb you

 Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa was born in the medieval fortified town of Avila in Spain on March 28, 1515. At seven she and her brother Rodrigo, impressed by the lives of the saints, ran away from home, hoping to die as martyrs. They were overtaken on the road out of Avila by an uncle and returned home where they contented themselves with playing at being "hermits" in their garden instead.

Beautiful, intelligent, and of a lively and assertive temperament, Teresa was given to prayer and seeking God’s will for her. At the age of twenty, having overcome her good father’s reluctance to be parted from her, she entered the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation in Avila, and was professed as a religious a year later.

Becoming ill, she suffered much for several years and was once almost given up for dead. Seeking God in the practice of virtue and solitude, she began to develop her famous doctrine on prayer and divine contemplation.

Yet her convent, much given to social encounters, and worldliness, for a while distracted her. Coming to herself, she quit the society of outsiders, and seeking only to fulfill her religious duties and grow in prayer, greatly advanced in the spiritual life. She began to be favored with rare divine communications, which she obediently submitted to the guidance of her confessors.

Inspired to reform the Carmelites, amid opposition and persecution – including from the Inquisition – Teresa went on to found the Discalced Carmelites with the support of St. Peter of Alcantara. Her first convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was founded in Avila in 1562. Later, with the help of St. John of the Cross, she also undertook the reform of the male branch of the Order.

Once she started the great reform to return the Order to its original spirit of poverty, prayer and total enclosure, Teresa’s life was one of continuous foundations, which cost her much labor and suffering. It was during this period of the foundations that she wrote her treatises: The Way of Perfection, The Foundations, and The Interior Castle.

Teresa died in Alba de Tormes in October of 1582. She was canonized forty years later, was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and is universally revered as the Doctor of Prayer.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why the Fatima Chastisement and Triumph Await Us

Why the Fatima Chastisement and Triumph Await Us

This year we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. The occasion is a time for reflection upon a world and Church in disarray. As a result, many sense that a dark future awaits us.
The reason for this foreboding is that the message and requests of Our Lady have mostly gone unheeded. Our Lady warned of dire consequences for the world if men did not repent and stop sinning against God’s law.
What Happened at Fatima
For those unfamiliar with the Fatima apparitions, the account of the event is simple. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children tending their sheep near the village of Fatima. She asked them to come back for five consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, during which she would reveal to them an urgent message for our times.
In the course of the apparitions, she continually asked for prayer, penance, and amendment of life. She predicted future events that would happen should men not convert. She also asked for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart and the practice of the First Saturday devotion—in which the faithful are asked to confess, go to communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep Our Lady company by meditating for fifteen minutes on the mysteries of the rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months.
On the day of the final apparition, Our Lady worked the most witnessed miracle in modern history as 70,000 people—including anti-Catholic reporters—saw the sun whirl in the sky on that cold and rainy day.
An Impressive Record: More Urgent Than Ever
In the one hundred years since these apparitions, everything has happened exactly as Our Lady said it would. The Fatima record is impressive in predicting both the past as well as the present.
However, there are those who say the message is all behind us now. It’s over. It has been a hundred years, and thus the message is outdated and need no longer be observed.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fatima Message is more urgent than ever. Here is why.
No Conversion
Our Lady herself urgently called for the conversion of sinners back in 1917. She warned repeatedly that should her request not be heeded and men not convert, the world would suffer a great chastisement, including the annihilation of some nations.
Looking at the state of the world one hundred years later, no one can affirm that the world has improved. The weakening of Faith is evident everywhere. The Church is in a shattered state of crisis. Society is coming apart because of abortion, the destruction of marriage and the collapse of morals. The world is full of social and political crises and military threats ready to explode at any moment.
It is obvious that men have not converted. There is no doubt that Our Lady’s requests have not been heeded. And given the present state of world affairs, it is unlikely that men will do this in the near future.
Therefore, Fatima is more urgent than ever because it foresees a chastisement for a world that has lost all sense of order. The message says what so many avoid saying: The present crisis is a moral crisis and, therefore, calls for a moral solution.
What Is Needed: A Change of Heart
A society without morals sets itself on the road to ruin. Many already sense this. They see the world and its institutions are coming apart. That within the family itself, there is much strife and discord.  The horrific crimes of terrorism show that no place is safe from the evil in men’s hearts.
Either we see a change of hearts, or this world is lost. And that is the great beauty of the Fatima message. Fatima is not only a message for those who heeded Our Lady’s requests. It speaks to those who did not heed them and come to repent.
Fatima proposes a genuine change of heart. The message asks the faithful to have recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as a means to bring about a grand return to order in times of trial and chastisement. This recourse is the core of the unheeded Message.
Recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means confiding all our concerns, trials and problems to her heart. Further, it means making our hearts like her Immaculate Heart. In other words, avoiding all sin and imitating her great virtue. Our Lady told the seers at Fatima that those souls who embrace the devotion to her Immaculate Heart would find in it “salvation,” a “refuge,” and that her Heart would be “a road that will lead [them] to God.”
That is why Fatima is not over. We are on the cusp of a great chastisement. We need direction and strength. We need hope. And the message has it. Those who confide in the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the coming storm can expect to see the fulfillment of her last prediction: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In this centennial year, we should resolve to make Fatima our compass. It is not over. The best part, her triumph, is yet to come.

We cannot enter heaven without...

We cannot enter a house without first speaking to the porter.
Similarly, we cannot enter heaven
without calling upon the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary
who is the Portress of Heaven.

St. John Vianney

Pope St. Callistus I

The name of St. Callistus was made famous by the Roman cemetery along the Apian Way that he beautified while he was its papal-appointed superintendent. Today, it still bears his name though he is not buried there but in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The cemetery of St. Callistus is fittingly revered for having many relics of the Christian martyrs buried within its precincts.

Roman by birth, Callistus was the slave of a Christian member of Caesar's household. He later became assistant to Pope St. Zephyrinus and then succeeded him in 218 or 219, reigning for about five years. Although the time in which he reigned was mostly peaceful for Christians under Alexander Severus whose mother was a Christian, there are historical indications that he suffered martyrdom in the year 223.

Even his enemies attest to his having ruled with equanimity, at times contravening the customs of the era in favor of wisdom and mercy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

21,570 Rosary Rallies to Blanket America on October 14th



HANOVER, Penn., Oct. 9, 2017 — Hundreds of thousands of Catholics prepare to pray the Rosary in public and beg God and the Blessed Mother to save America. In 21,570 public places from coast to coast, lay Catholics associated with America Needs Fatima will hold Public Square Rosary Rallies.
The rallies refocus people on the urgency of the Blessed Mother's call to conversion given 100 years ago at Fatima, Portugal, and beg God to save America from unimaginable new levels of sin and chaos in society.
A map listing the rally locations by state can be found here!
"As people turn away from God, we’re seeing new levels of sin and chaos. Plus, it is harder to find solutions to our nation's growing moral problems," remarked Francis Slobodnik, national coordinator of the 2017 Public Square Rosary Crusade.
"World events are spiraling out of control. Society is splintering. We're suffering from the evil consequences of sexual immorality, abortion and same-sex 'marriage,'" Slobodnik said. "We must turn back to God and ask Our Lady for supernatural solutions. There is an urgent need for amendment of life and penance. If only we'd do what she requested at Fatima, people would get the courage and wisdom to turn things around in America."



In 21,570 locations, rally captains are gearing up for the 2017 Public Square Rosary Crusade on October 14, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM local time. This is the Saturday closest to October 13th the anniversary of the Fatima miracle of the sun.
"The concept of doing a Rosary Rally in a public place is catching on," Slobodnik added. "In South Africa there will be 683 rallies and in Canada 533 rallies, plus there will be hundreds of sister rallies in other nations such as Poland, Ireland, Belgium, Australia and Cuba that we know of."
"The Holy Rosary is powerful. It is the solution for our problems," said Mr. Slobodnik. "The thought of 21,570 Public Square Rosary Rallies taking place all across America gives hope. I just know the Blessed Mother will be touched by the rallies and work wonders on that day, just like the miracle of the sun 100 years ago. She cannot refuse the fervent prayers of her suffering children, who beg for help!"
The national prayer event is sponsored by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign.
Contact: Robert E. Ritchie, America Needs Fatima, 717-309-1990, reritchie@gmail.com





100 Years Ago Today - The Sixth Fatima Apparition



As on the other occasions, the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, first saw a bright light, and then they saw Our Lady over the holm oak.



Lucia:
What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
Lucia: I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners...
Our Lady: Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.
Becoming sadder, she added, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”
Then, opening her hands, Our Lady shone the light issuing from them onto the sun, and as she rose, her own radiance continued to be cast onto the sun.
At that moment, Lucia cried, "Look at the sun!"
Once Our Lady had disappeared in the expanse of the firmament, three scenes followed in succession, symbolizing first the joyful mysteries of the rosary, then the sorrowful mysteries, and, finally, the glorious mysteries. Lucia alone saw the three scenes; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first.
The first scene: Saint Joseph appeared beside the sun with the Child Jesus and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the Holy Family. The Virgin was dressed in white with a blue mantle. Saint Joseph was also dressed in white, and the Child Jesus in light red. Saint Joseph blessed the crowd, making the Sign of the Cross three times. The Child Jesus did the same.
The second scene: A vision of Our Lady of Sorrows, without the sword in her breast, and of Our Lord overwhelmed with sorrow on the way to Calvary.
Our Lord made the Sign of the Cross to bless the people.
Lucia could only see the upper part of Our Lord's body.
The third scene: Finally, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned queen of heaven and earth, appeared in a glorious vision holding the Child Jesus near her heart.
While these scenes took place, the great throng of 70,000 spectators witnessed the miracle of the sun.
It had rained all during the apparition. At the end of the conversation between Our Lady and Lucia – when the Blessed Virgin rose and Lucia shouted, "Look at the sun!" – the clouds parted, revealing the sun as an immense silver disk shining with an intensity never before seen – though not blinding.
This lasted only an instant. Then the immense disk began to "dance."
The sun spun rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again. Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on the faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake, and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd.
All this lasted about ten minutes. Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its normal brightness. The cycle of the apparitions had ended.
Many people noticed that their clothes, soaking wet from the rain, had suddenly dried.
The miracle of the sun was also seen by numerous witnesses up to twenty-five miles away from the place of the apparition.


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The sun began to spin...

The sun began to spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire.
Then it stopped momentarily, only to begin spinning vertiginously again.
Its rim became scarlet; whirling, it scattered red flames across the sky.
Their light was reflected on the ground, on the trees, on the bushes, and on
the very faces and clothing of the people, which took on brilliant hues and changing colors.
After performing this bizarre pattern three times, the globe of fire seemed to tremble, shake,
and then plunge in a zigzag toward the terrified crowd. All this lasted about ten minutes.
Finally, the sun zigzagged back to its original place
and once again became still and brilliant, shining with its everyday brightness.

The Miracle of the Sun
as described by Sister Lucia dos Santos and witnessed by more than 70,000 people

St. Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor was the second son of King Ethelred II and his Norman wife, Emma. After King Ethelred's death, Emma married Canute, the son of the Danish king who had overthrown her husband in 1017. Hardly ten years old, Edward and his elder brother, Alfred, were sent to Normandy. The Danes having gained the complete mastery of England, the succession, with Emma’s consent, was settled upon Hardicanute, her son by Canute. Upon Canute’s death in 1035, however, his illegitimate son, Harold, taking advantage of Hardicanute’s absence in Denmark, seized the throne for himself.

Edward and Alfred were persuaded to make an attempt to regain the English crown, but this resulted in the cruel death of Alfred who had fallen into Harold's hands, while Edward was obliged to return to Normandy. Edward was only able to reclaim the throne after Canute’s son and heir’s death in 1042. The people were eager for their legitimate ruler to return to the throne, and Edward's accession was received with wide acclaim.

Brought up in the ducal court of his Norman uncle, Edward’s sympathies and loyalties always rested strongly with the Norman people – a trait which would cause him considerable trouble later.

Yielding to the entreaty of his nobles, he took the powerful Earl Godwin’s daughter, Edith, for his wife in 1044. Out of love for God and a desire for greater perfection, Edward had taken a vow of chastity in his youth. With Edith's consent prior to their marriage, he continued to live a life of absolute continence with her.

Edward’s reign was a peaceful one. He was a wise and just ruler, well respected and favored for his revocation of many exorbitant taxes. However, conflict arose between Edward and his father-in-law, Godwin, when the latter accused Edward of bias in his ecclesiastical nominations, appearing to show favoritism to candidates of Norman origin and in rejecting the election of a relative of Godwin’s to the archbishopric of Canterbury. As tension rose to crisis level and violent friction became imminent, Godwin and his sons’ position disintegrated due to the unwillingness of their men to fight the King. Consequently, Edward seized the opportunity to bring the over-mighty Earl to heel and he and his family were banished. Within a year though, Godwin returned, and he and the King were able to reconcile.

During his early exile in Normandy, Edward had bound himself by vow to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. However, as he could not leave his kingdom without doing injury to his people, Pope St. Leo IX commuted its fulfillment into the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Abbey at Westminster. The King endowed it in a superb manner out of his own patrimony and it is to him that we owe the magnificence of Westminster Abbey.

Edward was the first King of England to use the “royal touch,” a form of laying on of hands by which many suffering from diseases were cured by him.

The saintly King was taken ill while attending the dedication of Westminster Abbey on December 28, 1065. He died the following week on January 5, 1066 and was buried within its walls the next day. Numerous miracles took place at his tomb, wherein his incorrupt body was enshrined, and he was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161. He is the only saint buried in Westminster Abbey and one of the few whose relics were not destroyed by Henry VIII.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Medicine for the body, medicine for the soul

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick,
and unless he takes medicine, he will die.
Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin.
For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health;
and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Wilfrid of York

Wilfrid was born in 634, the son of a nobleman. At odds with his stepmother, he was sent to the court of King Oswy of Northumbria, where Queen Eanfleda, complying with his wishes, kindly saw to his education in the sacred sciences.

In 654 he went to Europe with St. Benet, and after a stay in Lyons, went on to Rome where he studied under Boniface the Archdeacon, secretary to Pope St. Martin.
Back in England, in league with King Alcfrith of Deira, he labored to bring the Roman discipline to the English church, taking distance from Celtic usages. Among the Roman practices he worked to establish in England was the Roman calculation for the celebration of Easter.

He became abbot of the monastery of Ripon where he introduced the rule of St. Benedict, and soon after was ordained a priest.

Appointed Bishop of York, he went to France to be consecrated. Lingering, for reasons unknown, then suffering shipwreck, when he returned, found that another, St. Chad, had been appointed in his place by King Oswy.

Wilfrid did not dispute the election, but later, St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, found that the appointment of St. Chad had been irregular and placed St. Wilfrid in the see of York.

As a bishop, he was exemplary and beloved of his people, but his path was not peaceful. First at odds with the heir to Oswy, King Egfrith, and then with the latter’s successor, Aldfrith, he twice lost his see and twice had to travel to Rome to be reinstated, besides facing all sorts of difficulties.

He died in 709 and his body is buried in his monastery of Ripon. Part of the epitaph on his tomb reads: “… drove error far, and showed his folk sound law and liturgy … At home, abroad long time in tempests tossed … he bore a bishop’s charge … Passed to rest and gained the joys of heaven … Grant Lord his flock may tread their shepherd’s path!”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

No grace, no perfection, and no glory...

The Holy Ghost did not describe Mary in the Gospels
but left it to you to picture her in your heart.
In this way, you might comprehend
that there is no grace, no perfection, and no glory
conceivable in a simple creature
that is lacking to her.

St. Thomas of Villanova

St. Mary Soledad

Christened Bibiana Antonia Emanuela, her parents were Francis Torres and Antonia Acosta, an exemplary Christian couple running a small business in Madrid.

At first Emanuela thought of joining the Dominicans whose convent she frequented, but her request was turned down due to poor health and she decided to wait for a clearer direction to her life.

This direction came through Madrid’s Vicar, Fr. Miguel Martinez y Sanz worried about the state of the sick in his parish. He gathered seven women into a religious community devoted to their service. Emanuela was among these first "handmaids" and took the name Maria Soledad – “Solitude”, a Spanish title for the Sorrowful Mother.

Five years later Fr. Miguel took half of the community to make another foundation, leaving Mary Soledad as superior in Madrid.  After dealing with difficulties that threatened the dissolution of the group, Mother Soledad was able to secure the support of Fr. Gabino Sanchez and the queen. At this time, the community was named Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick.

After becoming involved with the care of young delinquents, the community received ecclesiastical approval. During the cholera outbreak of 1865, their dedicated service won the love and respect of all.

Again there were difficulties and, victim of slander, Mother Soledad was removed as superior only to be reinstated after an investigation. After several of the sisters left the community, the Handmaids grew in number and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana, Cuba. The new institute received papal approval in 1876 and the community spread throughout Spain opening houses and hospitals.

After governing the Handmaids for thirty-five years, Mother Soledad died of pneumonia on January 18, 1893. At the time of her death, there were forty-six houses of the congregation spread throughout Europe and Latin America.

In 1896, at the first exhumation of her body, required during the process of canonization, it was still intact and exuded a sweet fragrance. A few years later, however, only bones remained.

In the United States the congregation is known as the Sisters Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick. They have six communities still involved in home health care.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Miracle of the Sun: Seal on a Serious Message

The apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal, May, 1917 to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, were Gospel-like in their seriousness, simplicity and credibility. All events prophesized were fulfilled, and so was Our Lady’s promise of a sign at the sixth and last apparition.
Adding to the believability of the miraculous event, the chosen seers were very young, simple and innocent, incapable of conjuring or embellishing. 
When Our Lady spoke, she spoke like a messenger, plainly and objectively, although touchingly attentive to the children, their questions and needs.
The theme of her message ran throughout the consecutive visits: sin must stop; prayer (especially the Rosary), penance and conversion of life must be adopted by humanity or there would be terrible consequences.
And she promised a portentous sign “for all to believe” which set Portugal abuzz.
It was a “bad” time for such an apparition and such a promise in Portugal.
In 1908 King Carlos I and his heir Prince Luis Felipe, had been assassinated, and a Republic established. The new government was adamantly anti-religious and anti-clerical and aimed at secularizing centuries-old Catholic Portugal.
Thus, the Fatima apparitions deeply disturbed the status-quo, which went as far as imprisoning the children for a short while.
But God was indeed at work at Cova da Iria, Fatima, and a sign had been promised.
And the sign happened.                      Free copy of Meet the Witnesses
On October 13, about 70,000 spectators filled Cova da Iria, among them journalists, the curious and the incredulous.
The day was rainy. The seers saw a bright light, after which Our Lady appeared atop the usual holm oak. Mary asked for a chapel to be built, and revealed that she was the “Lady of the Rosary”.
She predicted that WWI would soon end, and that the soldiers would come home.
Lucia asked for the cure of some sick persons to which Our Lady responded: “Some yes, some no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.”
Then she begged the world, “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”

On saying this, she opened her hands and projected the light coming from them onto the sun."
Lucia cried, “Look at the sun!”
The heavy clouds parted revealing a huge silver disk. Though it shone intensely, it did not blind. The sphere began to dance, then spin rapidly like a gigantic circle of fire. It stopped momentarily, then spun vertiginously again, its rim scarlet, scattering flames through the sky. The changing lights were reflected on the faces of the spectators, on the trees and on the ground in fantastic hues.
After performing this bizarre pattern thrice, the fiery globe trembled, shook then plunged toward the earth in a zigzag. People screamed. All this only lasted a few minutes. The sun then zigzagged back to its place and re-assumed its normal appearance.
People noticed that their rain-soaked clothes were dry. So were the pools of water that had formed in the field. Engineers later affirmed that an enormous amount of energy was necessary to dry those pools in only a few minutes.
Numerous people also saw the miracle of the sun up to twenty-five miles away.
To the chagrin of secularists and support of the faithful, newspaper men in the crowd reported the miracle throughout the world.
Indeed, the miracle of the sun “sealed” the authenticity of the Fatima Message, a crucial message for our sinful, troubled times.
By Andrea F. Phillips
References:

Our Lady of Fatima: Prophecies of Tragedy or Hope?  By Antonio A. Borelli and John R. Spann
Wikipedia online

A holy reminder

The Holy Rosary,
recited with the meditation on the sacred mysteries,
is a sacrifice of praise to God for the great gift of our redemption
and a holy reminder of the sufferings, death and glory of Jesus Christ.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia belonged to one of the most prominent families of the kingdom of Aragon, a family that gave the Church two popes. His father, Juan Borgia, was the third Duke of Gandia. On his mother Juana’s side, Francis was the great-grandson of King Ferdinand V of Aragon.

On his arrival at the imperial court at eighteen, Francis crossed paths momentarily with a man who impressed him, and who was being arrested by the Inquisition: Ignatius of Loyola. The following year, Francis married Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese noblewoman, with whom he had eight children. On his father’s death in 1543, he became the fourth Duke of Gandia.

At his wife's death in 1546, Francis sought admittance to the Society of Jesus. Finally, in 1550, after settling his children and the affairs of his estate, he entered the Jesuits in Rome. The news of the “Duke turned Jesuit” spread and at his first public Mass the crowd was so great, the altar had to be moved outside.

After doing wonders throughout his country he crossed into Portugal and surpassed himself there. In 1554 St. Ignatius made him commissary general of the Society of Jesus in Spain.

As commissary general, he practically founded the Society in Spain establishing many houses and colleges. He was crucial in dissolving the prejudices that his relative, Emperor Charles V, harbored against the Jesuits. He also assisted at the death of the dowager queen Juana, who had gone mad fifty years before, on the death of her husband. She died healed and at peace. He also met St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order, and was the first to recognize her greatness.

Back in Rome, St. Charles Borromeo, and Cardinal Ghislieri, later Pope Pius V. regularly attended his sermons. At the death of Father Laynez, second general of the Jesuits, Francis was elected Father General of the Jesuit Order.

Backed by St. Pius V who admired and trusted him, he was able to do great things for the Order in Rome and abroad, building two churches, and at times using his personal influence to obtain acceptance of the Jesuits.

Worn by the responsibilities of his post and a last trip throughout Europe in which he was publicly hailed as a saint, he returned to Rome on a littler. Through his brother, Thomas, he sent a blessing to his children and grandchildren, and as their names were spoken to him, he prayed for each.  He died on the night of September 30.