UNO SGUARDO MISSIONARIO SUL MONDO E LA CHIESA Missionari Comboniani – Formazione Permanente – Comboni Missionaries – Ongoing Formation
Francis’ Mass for the canonization of the two visionaries, the first holy children who were not martyrs: “God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills our hearts”. Greeting to the sick: “Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the Church.”
Pope Francis during Mass at Fatima for the canonization of the 2 little shepherds
correspondent from Fatima
Our Lady, “foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures. Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell. Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us” Pope Francis, as did his predecessors, commemorates the anniversary of the apparitions, celebrating Mass in front of the shrine of the Fatima sanctuary. There are more than half a million faithful in front of him. Pilgrims from Portugal but also from many other parts of Europe and the world. Many of them stayed up all night on the esplanada where the candlestick procession had taken place the night before. Among them, a Palestinian refugee family who found shelter in Fatima. It is a huge manifestation of people, where the only real protagonist is Mary.
After meeting once again with the President of Portugal, Francis privately visited the tombs of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two visionary brother and sister who half an hour later, he proclaimed saints. Next to the tomb of Jacinta is that of sister Lucia dos Santos, the cousin of the two new holy children, the first to be canonized without having suffered martyrdom. It was a touching moment, even in the light of what Francis was about to say in the homily, remembering how little Jacinta had prayed and suffered for the Pope. On the tombs of Francis and Jacinta, two white roses were placed inside the sanctuary.
After proclaiming the sanctity of the two pastorinhos of Fatima, Pope Bergoglio in the homily recalled the “Woman Dressed in Sun” from the book of Revelation. “We Have a Mother! A “So beautiful a lady,” as the seers of Fatima said to one another as they returned home on that blessed day of 13 March a hundred years ago. That evening, Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: “Today I saw Our Lady”. They had seen the Mother of Heaven. Many others sought to share that vision, but they did not see her.
According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of Light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth. We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: “show unto us… Jesus”.
Francis then invited the pilgrims to remain “clinging” to Our Lady “like children”, “Like an anchor, let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father”. The Pope then quoted the two newly proclaimed saints: “God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle”
Then Bergoglio recalled one of Jacinta’s visions, referenced by her cousin Lucia in her third memory: “Do you not see all those streets, all those paths and fields full of people crying out for food, yet have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And all those people praying with him?” “Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being here with me! – the Pope said could not fail to come here to venerate the Virgin Mary and to entrust to her all her sons and daughters. Under her mantle they are not lost; from her embrace will come the hope and the peace that they require, and that I implore for all my brothers and sisters in baptism and in our human family, especially the sick and the disabled, prisoners and the unemployed, the poor and the abandoned.
Francis recalled, “God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia. We do not want to be a stillborn hope! Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”. The Lord, who always goes before us, said this and did this. Whenever we experience the cross, he has already experienced it before us. We do not mount the cross to find Jesus. Instead it was he who, in his self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us, and to bring us back to the Light.”
At the end of the Mass, before going to lunch with the bishops of Portugal, the Pope addressed a greeting to the sick. “Jesus knows the meaning of sorrow and pain. He understands us, he comforts us and he gives us strength, as he did to Saint Francisco Marto and Saint Jacinta, and to the saints of every time and place. I think of Apostle Peter, chained to Jerusalem’s prison, while the whole Church prayed for him. The Lord comforted Peter. That is the Church’s ministry: the Church asks the Lord to comfort the afflicted like yourselves, and he comforts you, even in ways you cannot see. He comforts you in the depths of your hearts and he comforts you with the gift of strength”
The Pope continued “On the altar, we worship the flesh of Jesus; in these our brothers and sisters, we encounter the wounds of Jesus.” And he recalled how the 1917 appearance asked the shepherds to offer themselves to God. “Dear Sons and Daughters, like the shepherd children, tell Our Lady that you want to offer yourselves to God with all your heart. Don’t think of yourselves simply as the recipients of charitable solidarity, but feel that you share fully in the Church’s life and mission. Your silent presence, which is more eloquent than a flood of words, your prayers, the daily offering of your sufferings in union with those of Jesus crucified for the salvation of the world, the patient and even joyful acceptance of your condition – all these are a spiritual resource, an asset to every Christian community. Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the Church.”