A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
The Salvation of Our Century

Part 1

Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Fatima Shrine on Our Lady's Immaculate Heart

By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, 7 DEC. 2011 (ZENIT)
There is a very strong link between the history of Russia and the messages that the Virgin Mary left humanity in her apparitions in Fatima. In fact, on July 13, 1929, Our Lady asked for the conversion of Russia and for it to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, to impede the spread of its "poisonous branches" throughout the world. Russia was not consecrated and, in fact, it is symbolic that a few months later the October Revolution broke out.

Now that we witness in Russia the rebirth of the Christian faith it is necessary to reread these messages of Fatima and to understand Mary's power of intercession.  

To this end, and also on the occasion of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, ZENIT interviewed Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who assists at the Fatima Shrine.

ZENIT: Father Cesare, why did Our Lady speak specifically of Russia in her apparitions?

Father Cuomo: Because Russia was the nucleus from which that atheistic materialist ideology sprang that intended to remove God from the life of men, from society and from everything, through a harsh program of conquest. Our Lady herself said: "The poisons will spread from Russia throughout the world and nations will be destroyed." Unfortunately all these evils, in fact, spread beyond the Soviet Empire.

ZENIT: What is the result of all this?

Father Cuomo: Unfortunately we are paying the consequences of this also in our days, because society is still steeped in a certain type of mentality. It has remained as a great hole that contains toxic material, which was covered thanks to the Consecration of 1952 by Pope Pius XII. If it were to open, however, it would cause great damage, as in the past.

ZENIT: Hence there is no solution?

Father Cuomo: On the contrary, the Virgin has given us the remedy: her Immaculate Heart. Through true devotion, which does not mean only the recitation of certain prayers, but really putting oneself at the service of Mary, we can cover, clean little by little, all the poison spread. At times I like to think that there was a strong wave of evil, but at the same time the Heavens did not remain still, but threw an even bigger "rod," the heart of Our Lady, to absorb all this. The act of consecration that John Paul II carried out in 2000, entrusting the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, confirmed this: Our Lady's heart is the support of humanity and the anchor of salvation for this century.

ZENIT: What does "Consecration to the Immaculate Heart" mean?

Father Cuomo: It is a reference to our baptismal consecration, as well as an aid to live it more profoundly under the guidance of Our Lady, our Mother, whom the Lord has given to us as a particular support to come closer to Jesus. The Christian must enter the "radius of action" of this very good, holy Mother, if he wishes to be really conformed to Jesus. In fact, it would be somewhat unnatural not to do so. ... The visionaries say that together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary must also be venerated. Among other things, this was an explicit request of Our Lady herself.

ZENIT: If you were asked the reasons for Marian devotion, what would you answer?

Father Cuomo: First of all, what the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady represents. The heart is the symbol of love, which, however, in Mary is a truly genuine love, not love as it is understood in the world. In fact today in society there is talk of love associating it with pleasure, sexuality, self-satisfaction. True love, instead, is precisely that of which Our Lady is the model: generous, selfless, a free gift of oneself, which comes from the love we must give God. God, in fact, loves us thus and the creature must respond as much as possible to this full love that it receives from its Creator.

ZENIT: In what way does Our Lady participate in this "exchange" of love between Creator and creature?

Father Cuomo: Our Lady realizes fully that which should exist in every man: a total answer of love to God which has, then, as the consequence, love of one's neighbor. In essence, the Immaculate Heart of Mary gives a greater possibility to receive charity, true love, and to then give it to others. Thus we come to the concept of Immaculate, that is, without stain, which means that there is a totality of donation, a pure source to be attained, useful to live our life well, and in our relationship with God and with our neighbor. In this connection, Our Lady herself requested that the rosary be prayed for peace in the world.

ZENIT: What is the "connection" between saying the Hail Mary 50 times and peace in the world?

Father Cuomo: Through the rosary, Our Lady changes your heart: She brings you to penetrate better into the mysteries of Jesus' life not only in thought but also leading you little by little to see these mysteries with her own heart. Moreover, the rosary gives one the capacity to see where good and evil are, to be more easily aware of where there is lying, deceit; in a certain sense, it is a protection! In addition I see that, often, after having recited the rosary I feel spontaneously a Eucharistic desire, to be in communion with Jesus. Hence, through the rosary and all the other practices connected with it, the Virgin continues to generate Christ spiritually in the life of the faithful.
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Part 2

Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Fatima Shrine on Our Lady's Immaculate Heart

By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, 8 DEC. 2011 (ZENIT)
For today's feast of the Immaculate Conception, ZENIT spoke with Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a collaborator at the Fatima Shrine.

Part 1 of this interview was published Wednesday.

* * *

ZENIT: How can Marian devotion be a part of the New Evangelization of which Benedict XVI speaks so much?

Father Cuomo: Our Lady is above all a model of evangelization because she sanctified herself, living the Word of God by incarnating it and with her example of life was an evangelizer. For example, when she went to her cousin Elizabeth, not only did she take material help to her cousin, but also an announcement. To seek, hence, with commitment to reproduce her way of life, the virtues she practiced, is already a form of evangelization. Moreover, when we are filled with her, it is almost natural for us to have an apostolic zeal, even just with words. If you allow yourself to be touched by Our Lady, she leads you automatically to bear witness with courage even in situations where humanly you might feel inhibited or timid.

ZENIT: In your opinion, is a rediscovery of the figure of Mary necessary today or is everything already known?

Father Cuomo: Yes, indeed! In fact this year we of the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are carrying out a series of Marian catecheses where we wish to reflect further in a simple but profound way, on all the aspects of Our Lady’s life, beginning with her maternity and her virginity up to all those aspects connected to the type of reparation that she herself requested at Fatima. In practice, we choose an annual theme to then penetrate deeper in it during the following six months. From 2000 to 2010, for example, the theme was the Commandments, whereas from 2010 to 2017 it will be apparitions. The theme for next year began in November, and it is Our Lady’s apparitions, with the title of “Do you wish to offer yourself to God?” This catechetical itinerary, moreover, also serves as a preparation for the centenary of the Fatima Shrine.

ZENIT: You just mentioned the types of reparation requested by Our Lady herself. What is this all about?

Father Cuomo: In the apparition in Fatima on December 10, 1925, Our Lady said: “My heart is pierced by thorns,” asking that the five Saturdays of the month be consecrated to her.
Five, that is, as the number of offenses against Our Lady:

— Not believing that she is the Mother of God and Mother of men

— Not believing in her virginity, either before, during or after the birth

— Not believing in her Immaculate Conception

— Offending her in images

— Inciting children to show contempt towards her

Our Lady requested the Saturdays of the month to "make reparation" for these offenses, indeed it can be said that the heart of the Fatima message is in fact reparation.

ZENIT: How does the world see Mary today?

Father Cuomo: So often a somewhat mediocre idea is transmitted of the Mother of God. In practice, scorning Our Lady in the prerogatives that we mentioned earlier, she is trivialized, becomes a woman like any other and also her power of intercession is altered. We, instead, must have a lofty idea of Our Lady, we must discover her beauty in such a way as to have greater confidence in her power, in the efficacy of her intercession in our favor. Often, however, even many Mariology books do not give the best of the extraordinary figure of the Virgin, but describe her in a way that I would define as almost poetical.

[Translation by ZENIT]

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
© Innovative Media, Inc.

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