Tag Archives: Our Lady

Miraculous image of Our Lady to be crowned

Recently, I was blessed to go on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Saint Paul the Apostle, during which we visited Ephesus, a place where according to tradition, Mary lived her last years on this earth. But it is also the place where the Council of Ephesus took place in 431. During that Council, the bishops announced that Mary could also be called Mother of God.

The title “Mother of God” is one of the first titles given to Our Lady. We call her Mother of God not because God came from her, but because she gave birth to Jesus who is both God and man. The title Mother of God reminds us that Jesus is both divine and human.

On the same pilgrimage we visited certain mythological Greek gods’ places where we learned that Greek gods supposedly acted in a human way – often being jealous or angry, and the most striking to me… they did not take care of people. Conversely, Mary, Mother of God, who is totally human and at the same time the mother of our Savior from the beginning, is very much interested in the life of her children, us. We read in the Gospel that Christ did his first miracle at Cana, transforming water into wine after the intervention of His mother Mary. For this miracle to commence, Jesus‘ mother said to servants: “do whatever my Son will tell you.”

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, of which I am a part, for over 600 years has served like servants in Cana — in Czestochowa, Poland. In this ‘Polish Cana,’ the Pauline Fathers have witnessed many life-changing miracles upon Mary’s intercession. Pilgrims who come to that shrine have received graces through her intercession, and thus have chosen her as their Mother and Queen. As a sign of that, the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was crowned in Poland in 1717.

Pauline Fathers serve also in the ‘American Czestochowa’ (National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Doylestown, PA) where her icon was brought in the early 1950s. This newer church was built mostly by PolishAmericans, and consecrated in 1966 in America, signifying a millennium of Christianity in Poland.

Pope Saint John Paul II acknowledged this in his talk at the Shrine in Poland in 1979. He also blessed and signed the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is kept in the lower chapel of The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown. Pilgrims of many nationalities come to the American shrine for everyday Mass, Confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but most of all to ask for Mary’s unfailing intercession. Among those who have made pilgrimage here were then-Cardinal Wojtyla (now Pope Saint John Paul II); U.S. presidents Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan; president of Poland Andrzej Duda, and many more.

As a thanksgiving to Our Lady for her presence and motherly care here in America, we will crown her icon at the American Czestochowa on August 25. The main celebrant of that ceremony will be Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput. We invite all to visit our magnificent Shrine and especially to celebrate the moment of crowning of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

In connection with the coronation of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in August, the shrine in Doylestown was recently granted a plenary indulgence by His Holiness Pope Francis, for all the faithful who visit the Shrine this year, from May through October. We encourage all to take advantage of this extraordinary grace, spiritual experience, and benefit from the coronation of the Miraculous Image of our Mother and Queen.

TADEUSZ LIZINCZYK OSPPE, provincial at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Doylestown, PA).

Pro-family message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last month, Legatus members and their families traveled to Mexico City for our annual Guadalupe pilgrimage. I have been to Mexico City on this pilgrimage three times now, and each pilgrimage leaves something with me. The Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the home of the tilma of Juan Diego, is a very unique pilgrimage site. It is the most visited Marian pilgrimage locale in the world and as is sometimes pointed out, the only place we can still see the physical evidence of an apparition of our Blessed Mother.

Stephen Henley

One of the most unique aspects of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the ribbon at her waist. In ancient times, this attire for an Aztec woman would signify that she was pregnant. This would mean that this, then, is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant with Jesus. During the pilgrimage, I spent time reflecting on this aspect of Mary as the mother of God, and on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the unborn.

I tie this image of Mary with child to that of the Holy Family. Among other characteristics, being pro-life means being pro-family. When visiting the Shrine, aside from seeing thousands of pilgrims, there are many Mexican families traveling together to make this pilgrimage. Not only parents with their kids, but several generations, great-grandparents, grandparents, extended family. There are fewer images in our world that can speak more to real pro-life belief, than that of a family praying together.

Children, regardless of circumstance, are a real, tangible gift of God’s powerful love. Mother Teresa once said, “we must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.” The family is the first Church, and an example for the world of God’s presence and love. In the historical moment of tolerance in which we find ourselves, it was a relief and a reassurance to see so many families come together united in Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe sends us a powerful message, an example of love and sacrifice for family to nations and cultures that have great need of her. Let us take this time to focus on family as a symbol of God’s love in our world.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Celebrate the most magnificent flower of God’s garden

Uniquely, flowers are one of the few things that have no real utility. We grow flowers simply for the sake of beauty and delight.

Many flowers are associated with Our Lady and are connected to her life in some way. Rooted in Canticle of Canticles, she is connected to the Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley. Cardinal Henry Newman pointed out that the rose is the most beautiful of all the flowers. In the eyes of God, Our Lady remains the most beautiful human being who has ever existed or will exist.

Every May we honor that most splendid member of our race, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed how appropriate that as nature’s beauty shines brilliantly this month as trees blossom and flowers bloom, we honor the most beautiful flower in God’s garden.

We point to this reality when we crown her statues with flowers and celebrate her feast days. After Mass one day, a gentleman insisted that we make too much about Mary, which takes away from the worship we owe God. He was reminded by this priest of the maxim, “De Maria numquam satis.” That is, “Concerning Mary nothing is sufficient.” Sadly, he was not convinced because he had attended classes at a local “Christian” college. Truly, Mary’s role in salvation history and her participation in the redemption of mankind is of such magnitude we can neither fully comprehend nor explain this great mystery anymore that we can the Blessed Trinity.

A rejection of the Mother of God is a rejection of Our Lord. This incident cautions us regarding the importance of preserving children from being exposed to false doctrines, especially when they are portrayed in innocuous terms such as ecumenical, nondenominational, or Christian events. Also, Catholics need to make an effort to know what the Church teaches and why, to inoculate themselves against being led astray.

Love of the Blessed Virgin Mary can only emanate from an orthodox Catholic heart. Catholics, even barely practicing ones, bear her affection and love albeit in varying degrees of intensity. This seemingly distant figure, the Mother of God and the majestic Queen of heaven and earth, immaculately conceived, sinless and perfect, becomes so real to her devotees that she inevitably draws them closer to her Son, Jesus Christ. She stands out among the human race showing clearly that this Trinitarian God loves mankind with a fierce love. Love of Our Lady manifests itself in nearly every place where the Faith exists through all the manifold expressions of piety by the faithful. Loving the masterpiece of God impels us to love the author of the masterpiece even more.

St. Anselm tells us that wherever there is the greatest purity there is also the greatest charity. The more pure the heart and empty of itself, the greater is its fullness of love toward God. If we may extend the flower analogy further, flowers cannot live without light and water. Our Lady lived in the light of God’s grace. As a result, the life of grace blossomed and multiplied in her soul. She emptied herself, allowing the heavenly dew of God’s grace to water the garden of her soul. He dilated and expanded the capacity of the Virgin to love with a Christ-like love, a self-sacrificial love.

Happily, Our Lord will do the same for us. If we seek after our divinely given vocation and strive to live in the light of God’s grace, we can expect the greatest happiness allotted to man in this vale of tears, and afterward a happy repose in the arms of Christ joining the angels and saints as one of the many beautiful flowers in God’s garden.

Tis the month of our Mother… bring flowers of purity, meekness, patience and love; they are garlands unfading, the blossoms which open above.

How dull our lives would be without our Queen of the May!

FATHER HAROLD MCKALE, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is parochial vicar to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Doylestown, PA) and works with the Philadelphia Latin Mass community. He hold a B.S. in business from Millersville University, and M.Div. and M.A. from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Philadelphia).

Fatima Message @ 100: More Relevant Than Ever

Rife with enough secrets, visions and warnings to fill a riveting suspense novel, the story of Our Lady of Fatima has captivated Catholics and others for a century.

Wake-up call

As the Church celebrates this month the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, the messages she gave to three heroic peasant children seem as relevant as ever in a modern age marked by societal upheaval and uncertainty about the future.

“It’s definitely a message for our time and it’s a challenging message in many ways,” said Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author of two new books, Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions (Servant) and Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World (Sophia Institute Press). “The Blessed Mother spoke about warnings and what would happen if we didn’t change our ways.”

“If the Fatima anniversary were 40 years off, people would not pay a great deal of attention to it, thinking they have plenty of time,” added Father Andrew Apostoli, whose book, Fatima for Today (Ignatius Press), thoroughly examines the apparitions. “However, now that the anniversary is here and, looking at the world situation as it is, people are taking it as a wake-up call.”

For example, Father Apostoli said, Mary spoke of war in 1917 during World War I, but the fear of another war is just as real today. She also cited Communism as a threat to western Christian civilization, saying it would begin in Russia and spread its errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. “This is especially true with regard to the family and what God intended for each individual, for families and for the world,” Father Apostoli said. “Today, a form of communism is seen in the teaching of gender ideology which ultimately undermines the Judeo-Christian concept of men and women as creatures of God with inherent dignity.”

Despite the serious nature of the Fatima messages, they were entrusted to three unlikely visionaries – two young siblings and their cousin who were tending sheep on a hillside on May 13, 1917, when they saw a flash of lightning and a “lady dressed in white.” The children had been prepared for the vision the previous spring by an “Angel of Peace,” who appeared to them three times, telling them to pray and offer sacrifices in reparation for sins against God and for the conversion of sinners. The angel also taught them two prayers, one known as the “Pardon Prayer” and the other focused on the Eucharist.

Serious revelation and admonition

Later, the lady who appeared to the children echoed and expanded upon the angel’s messages. Saying she was from heaven, she promised to return to the apparition site on the 13th of each month at the same time for the six successive months. In the subsequent apparitions, she asked the children to pray the rosary daily for world peace and to bear their sufferings in reparation for offenses against God and for the conversion of sinners. She also shared with them three “secrets,” the last of which was revealed in 2000 when two of the children, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were beatified. Although other aspects of the Fatima apparitions, such as the “miracle of the sun” that occurred on Oct. 13, 1917, and Mary’s request that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, often get more attention, her admonition to pray the rosary and to pray for sinners forms an important part of the Fatima message, Cooper O’Boyle said. “We live in a culture that teaches us to think about ourselves and does not encourage us to think about sinners. Mary’s message teaches us to make sacrifices for sinners, to offer penance and pray the daily Rosary. She said so many go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”

David Carollo, executive director of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA, founded as the Blue Army, said at the heart of the Fatima message is a call to live in accordance with the Gospels.

The children, he said, were shown a vision of hell and asked if they were willing to offer their lives so that others would avoid such a fate. “That’s what we’re taught. We have to save our own souls, but we also have an obligation to work for the salvation of others.”

Carollo agrees with Pope St. John Paul II that the Fatima message is even more important today than in 1917. He said it is significant that both of John Paul’s successors share his deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Pope Francis, in fact, has consecrated his pontificate to her and will visit Fatima May 12-13 for the centenary, when he is expected to preside over the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta, who died at the ages of 10 and 9, respectively. A second and final miracle required for their canonization was approved March 23.

Meanwhile, the cause of their cousin, Servant of God Sister Lucia, who died in 2005, is currently underway.

Assurance of consecration, Rosary’s power

During her life, Sister Lucia urged people to concentrate on Mary’s message instead of focusing on the more phenomenal aspects of the apparitions. Still, many persist in questioning whether all the secrets have been revealed and whether the consecration to Russia was properly fulfilled.

Father Apostoli said Sister Lucia, who was told by Mary that she would live longer than her cousins in order that she might spread the message of Fatima, stated before her death that no more secrets remained and that everything had been revealed. Sister Lucia also said that heaven accepted the consecration of Russia by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984.

Carollo said when he is questioned about the consecration during radio and television appearances, he reiterates what Sister Lucia said and declines to argue with those who will not accept it, instead advising them to heed Mary’s call to holiness and to pray and make reparation for sin. “First and foremost, we have to do those things. I would say focus on that. It’s common ground for all of us and that’s what our job is. She didn’t say to question the Pope. She said always pray for the Holy Father and the bishops.”

As the Fatima centenary nears, there also has been heightened interest in a letter Sister Lucia wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffara as he was establishing the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family. In the letter, Sister Lucia said the final battle between the Lord and Satan would be about marriage and the family.

Cooper O’Boyle, who will be leading a pilgrimage to Fatima with Father Apostoli in September, said Sister Lucia’s message is not surprising considering how the definition of marriage is being challenged and changed. “It’s just all around us, this attack on the family and on marriage . . . The final battle could be a century long, we don’t know. But we know we’re engaged in spiritual warfare, we need to put on our armor, have a strong foundation of prayer and follow Our Lady of Fatima’s instructions. She said the rosary is powerful enough to stop wars. We need to take the time and do what she asked us to do.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

The Three Secrets

The Fatima Visionaries were given three “secrets” by the lady who appeared to them. The last was revealed in 2000.

1. The children are shown a vision of hell and told to encourage devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart for the salvation of souls and peace. A worse war [than WWI] is predicted if people do not cease offending God.

2. Mary asks that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and for reparation through receiving Communion on the first Saturdays of each month. If this is done, she promises the conversion of Russia and a period of peace for the world.

3. The children see a vision in which a bishop dressed in white is killed by soldiers firing bullets and arrows. After his attempted assassination, Pope St. John Paul II read this third secret, concluding that “a mother’s hand” had redirected the path of the bullet, saving him.

Fatima Phenomena – Timeline of related events

Spring, 1916: An “Angel of Peace” appears three times to Francisco Marto, his sister, Jacinta, and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos while the three are tending sheep on a hillside.

May 13, 1917: The children see “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun.” She tells them to return each month for the next six months on the 13th day at the same hour.

July 13, 1917: The lady promises to perform a miracle in October for all to see and believe.

Oct. 13, 1917: After the apparition, crowds witness “the miracle of the sun,” in which the sun appears to dance, swirl and descend toward Earth.

April 4, 1919: Francisco Marto dies.

Feb. 20, 1920: Jacinta Marto dies.

Oct. 24, 1925: Lucia enters the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Spain and continues to receive private revelations about the Fatima message.

May 31, 1949: Lucia makes her profession as a Discalced Carmelite, taking the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.

May 13, 1982: Pope John Paul II consecrates the world to Mary at the Fatima shrine, a year after he was shot and wounded by an assassin. He credits the Immaculate Heart of Mary with his survival.

March 25, 1984: Pope John Paul II consecrates the world, “especially the peoples for which by reason of their situation you have particular love and solicitude,” to Mary, fulfilling her request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

May 13, 1989: Jacinta and Francisco are declared “venerable.”

May 13, 2000: Jacinta and Francisco are beatified.

Feb. 13, 2005: Sister Lucia dies at the Carmelite Convent in Portugal.