Monday, August 21, 2017

How Our Lady Transformed Francisco and Jacinta into Great Saints


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.

My sacred duty

How I tremble to think that souls can be punished for all eternity on account of the negligence of their pastor, that innocent people can be led from the path of truth because the words of the Inspired Text were never preached to them, and that the spirit of the world, and of our time especially, should pour into ill-instructed minds for want of a firm hand to check its tide. I have a sacred duty to defend the truth openly, for God will ask me to render an account for all those souls who have strayed into the ways of perdition.

Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius X

Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto was born at Riese in the diocese of Treviso in 1835 to Giovanni Battista and Margherita Sanson Sarto. His childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked six kilometers to school every day.

The excellence he demonstrated in all of his studies was only outdone by the sterling quality of his moral character, which evinced admiring accolades from his superiors at the seminary of Padua. Ordained at the age of twenty-three in 1858, Fr. Sarto spent nine years as curate in Tombolo and then nine as pastor in Salzano, striving to be “all to all” and truly living his priesthood to the fullest. In 1875, he was named a Canon of the Cathedral of Treviso and Chancellor of the diocese. Nine years later, he was consecrated as the Bishop of Mantua. Raised to the Cardinalate on June 12, 1893, he was made Patriarch of Venice three days later.

Upon the death of Pope Leo XIII in 1903, Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro was posed to succeed him. However, against to the protests of the conclave, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, making use of an age-old privilege of the Holy Roman Emperors, used his power of veto against the Cardinal, and Cardinal Sarto was elected instead. Taking the name of Pius, the new pope immediately put an end to the rights of any civil authority to interfere with a papal election.

The name of Pope Pius X is associated with the battle against the errors of Modernism attacking the Church. With the laser-like quality of a saint, the new Pope penetrated the wiles of the new “ism” to its very essence. The whole tendency of Modernism is anti-dogmatic, seeking to tailor dogma to the culture of the age through ambiguity and dilution of divinely revealed doctrine. A 1907 decree of the Holy Office condemned certain writers and propositions. This decree was followed by the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, defining the dangerous tendencies and errors of the new heresy which Pius X defined as “the synthesis of all heresies”. Strong disciplinary measures followed, one of them being the requirement for all bishops, priests, and teachers to take the “Oath against Modernism,” an oath of fidelity to the perennial teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church.

In this first encyclical letter Pope Pius X announced his ideal to “renew all things in Christ.” In the light of this ideal, he greatly promoted the Holy Eucharist, formally recommending daily Communion when possible, and reducing the age of first communicants from adolescence to the age of reason. He also facilitated the reception of Holy Communion by the sick, and urged daily reading of the Holy Scriptures.

In 1903 the Holy Father issued an instruction on sacred music which struck at current abuses. He was also responsible for a thorough reorganization of the tribunals, offices and congregations of the Holy See.

The eleventh anniversary of his election was met with the beginning of World War I. It is said the outbreak of the war killed him: he became ill and died in 1914. He was canonized in 1954 by his successor, Pope Pius XII.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

When affection becomes infection

The fact that spiritual goods
taste good to us no more, or
seem to be goods of no great account,
is chiefly due to our affections being infected
with the love of bodily pleasures, among which,
sexual pleasures hold the first place: for the love
of those pleasures leads man to have a distaste for spiritual things.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France, the third son of Tescelin, the noble Lord of Fontaines, and Aleth, a daughter of the Lord of Montbard. He and his five brothers were well-educated and well-learned in Latin and military exercises, Bernard being educated with particular care by his parents, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny.

Bernard fought the temptations of youth with assiduous prayer and the practice of virtue, often to a heroic degree and, at an early age, determined upon a life of solitude. His ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, gave rise to some of the most sublime writings ever penned on the Queen of Heaven. He studied the Holy Scriptures so intensely that the Word of God became as it were his own language. In the year 1112, Bernard left his home to join the monastery of Citeaux, which followed the very austere Cistercian rule. Bernard brought with him some thirty men, among them four of his brothers and an uncle, who had no previous thought of the religious life.

In 1115, the abbot of Citeaux sent Bernard and twelve monks to build a new house in the region of Champagne. The beginnings of what came to be known as Clairvaux, were trying and painful. The monks lived under their new abbot most poorly, surviving off what little the coarse land had to offer. The austerities practiced were so severe that Bernard’s health was seriously impaired. Nevertheless, disciples flocked in droves to the new monastic community, and the monks soon numbered one hundred and fifty, among them his youngest brother and his own father.

Renowned for his wisdom, Bernard was often called upon by both Church and State authorities to settle disputes. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes and, in the schism that broke out in 1130, was chosen to judge between two rival popes. Until the death of the anti-pope in 1138, he was forced to leave the solitude of his cloister repeatedly by order of Pope Innocent II to combat the resurgence of the schism. In 1139, heresy took the place of schism, and he was once again championing the Church’s cause in the public arena. The year 1145 saw one of Bernard’s Cistercian sons elevated to the throne of Peter. Pope Eugene III lost no time in calling for a new crusade against the Muslims and commissioned Bernard to preach the crusade throughout Europe. His preaching was accompanied by numerous miracles and thousands flocked to the Cross.

As Abbot of Clairvaux for forty years, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe. At his death, they numbered three hundred and forty-three. Having brought the Order out of obscurity, he is considered one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Bernard spent the last several years of his life in great pain. He saw the death of his contemporaries as a warning of his own approaching end and prepared himself accordingly. He died in 1153 and was canonized in 1174. Pope Pius VIII named Doctor of the Church in 1830.

The Scapular—A Powerful Weapon Against the Devil

Abbé Francis Trochu, in his book, The Cure D’Ars, relates a story of a young lady who, having decided to consecrate her life to religion, sought the holy pastor of Ars, Saint John Vianney, for a general confession.
When she finished relating her sins, St. John Vianney asked her if she was not forgetting something. The girl, upon recollecting her thoughts, could not recall anything else. The holy priest then proceeded to refresh her memory.
He asked her if she remembered a certain dance where she encountered a handsome young man with whom she desired to dance, but who, in turn, only danced with the other girls, passing her up.
Surprised, again she replied in the affirmative, that such was indeed true. The Cure D’Ars then asked her if she remembered how downcast she had felt at the snub, and how, upon leaving the ballroom, she had glanced back once more and had seen the young man dancing with a girl, but this time there were two small blue lights under his feet.
Again she agreed and confirmed that in fact she had seen the two blue lights under the youth’s feet, but that, finding them strange, she could not account for them.
Saint John Vianney then explained to her that the young man was in fact the Devil in human form, and that the only reason why he would not dance with her was because she was wearing the holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

100th Anniversary of the Fourth Fatima Apparition




On August 13, the day the fourth apparition was to take place, the seers were not at Cova da Iria.
They had been abducted by the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourém, who attempted to force from them the secret revealed in the apparition of July 13. The children held fast despite the mayor imprisoning them, and threatening to plunge them in boiling oil.

At Cova da Iria, thunder, followed by lightning, was heard at the usual time.
The spectators noticed a small white cloud that hovered over the holm oak for a few minutes. Phenomena of coloration were observed on the faces of the people, the clothing, the trees, and the ground.
Our Lady had certainly come, but she had not found the seers.
On August 19, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, Lucia was with Francisco and another cousin at Valinhos, a property belonging to one of her uncles, when the atmospheric changes that preceded the apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria began to occur: a sudden cooling of the temperature and a waning of the sun.
Feeling that something supernatural was approaching and enveloping them, Lucia sent for Jacinta, who arrived in time to see Our Lady appear – heralded as before by a bright light – over a holm oak slightly larger than the one at Cova da Iria.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to continue to go to Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of each month and to continue to pray the Rosary every day. On the last month, I will perform the miracle for all to believe.
Then Our Lady’s face became more serious, and even upset.
Our Lady: If they had not taken you to Ourém, the miracle would have been even greater.
Lucia: What does Your Grace want done with the money that the people leave at Cova da Iria?
Our Lady: Have two portable stands made. You and Jacinta with two other girls dressed in white carry one of them, and let Francisco carry the other one with three other boys. The portable stands are for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The money that is left over should be contributed to the chapel that they shall build.
Lucia: I would like to ask you for the healing of some sick persons.
Our Lady: Yes, I will cure some during the year.
Becoming sadder, she recommended anew the practice of mortification, saying lastly, 'Pray, pray much, and sacrifice for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.'
As usual, she then began to rise toward the east. The seers cut boughs off the tree over which Our Lady had appeared to them and took them home. The boughs gave off a uniquely sweet fragrance.




Read:  Fifth Apparition


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