Gathering Dedicated to the Memory of Sister Lucia of Jesus and Her Spiritual Legacy
By William A. Thomas
FATIMA, 27 NOV. 2012 (ZENIT)
The ‘World Apostolate of Fatima’ met in general session in Fatima, from the 11th to the 17th of November 2012. This was the first ever General Assembly since their permanent approval as a public association of Pontifical Right. They have already 20 million members in over 110 countries on five continents. Their General Assembly meeting in Fatima hosted delegates and observers of some 25 countries from all over the world, headed up by their International President, Professor Pablo Lopez-Ortiz of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico within the protectorate of the United States of America. The General Assembly meetings are normally convoked every four years, although the Board of Trustees along with the International Secretariat hold meetings every year.
Over 50 conferences, meetings and other activities were held and coordinated by the International Secretariat (headed up by relatives of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were two of the three seers of Our Lady in Fatima in 1917) Mr. Nuno Prazeres and Mrs. Ana Reis are both from Fatima.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity confirmed the World Apostolate of Fatima (W.A.F.) as an International Public Association of the Faithful, with a juridical personality and with its Statutes definitively approved by Decree dated October 7, 2010, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Mons. Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in a letter to the International President of the Association, Prof. Américo Lopez-Ortiz, pointed out that “this definitive approbation of the Statutes marks a new moment for the World Apostolate of Fatima and it is our hope that it brings a new evangelization enthusiasm in your endeavours.” The World Apostolate of Fatima believes that this is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the commitment to spreading the Message of Fatima all over the world, bringing this beam of hope and peace to the hearts of mankind. The Decree of approval does highlight that “the members of the World Apostolate of Fatima commit themselves to become faithful witnesses of the Catholic faith in their families, at work, in the parishes and communities, participating in this way in the ‘New Evangelization’ currently underway. The Association has been carrying out for the past years a series of initiatives to better meet this commitment. These include the organization of regional congresses in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America on the New Evangelization and the Message of Fatima, the formation of prayer groups, the launching of Eucharistic adoration programs for children, the coordination of programs for the visitation of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue to dioceses and parishes, publication of books, magazines, videos and websites, etc. All this to make the calls of Fatima and the Gospel reach further. The World Apostolate of Fatima and its members fulfil, by making known the urgency of the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, and its implications for the proper living of the Christian life, the aim of the Second Vatican Council in its degree on the role of the Laity in a most eminent way, but also contribute in a more profound way the imperative of the New Evangelization.
The Apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima between May 13th 1917 and October 13th 1917 were beyond doubt the most dramatic interventions from heaven in the course of human history. In appearing to 3 shepherd children from a local village near Fatima whose sheep were grazing in the Cova da Iria a large field which belonged to their parents, Our Lady made an urgent plea to the people of the world to turn back to God in prayer and penance and to be totally converted to Him. She gave an account of how heaven sees humanity by saying that “more people go to hell, because of the sins of the flesh and because there is no one to pray for their conversion.” Later on Our Lady would state that although there were wars raging all over Europe at that time as a result of the sin of man, there would even be a greater war if man did not convert and turn back to God in prayer and penance. By foretelling the advent of the Second World War through a sign in the sky, which appeared on the 26th of January 1938, which some called the Aurora borealis, Our Lady indicated that man was in open rebellion against God and thus the consequence was going to be death and destruction. The sign was not the borealis which is green and seen in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, this sign was a glowing red colour and was seen all over the world from Australia to Fatima and from China to the USA, it was an unmistakable last warning which humanity ignored to it peril. The exact amount of dead from the Second World War could be as high as 300 million and even today its effects are still being felt.
The World Apostolate of Fatima now speaks and teaches in the name of the Universal Church and it business is to keep relaying the message of Fatima to a world who wants to ignore God. In supporting the work of the Apostolate, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity said, to its International President, “I encourage you as you guide the work of the General Assembly to assist the delegates in seeking ways of using the Eucharist, the Rosary, and the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as paths for people far from God to encounter Christ and the Church, and for awakening a spirit of conversion, prayer, penance and reparation among your members in the light of the New Evangelisation.” Likewise too the Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal, Archbishop Rino Passigatio, in his message to the Congress said quoting ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ “the task of proclaiming and handing on the faith, incumbent on every Christian, in virtue of their participation in the common priesthood and the prophetic office of the Church” These he told the delegates were the best strategies that enable the fulfilment of the mission of evangelisers, a mission that springs from being baptised. He encouraged the delegates to the authentic voice of the message of Fatima and to bring the light of that message of hope to the whole world.
In his opening address to the Congress the International President, Americo Pablo Lopez-Ortiz told delegates that “there are many threats to the faith in the world today, but overcoming the moral crisis of our time is called the message of Fatima, whereby the Blessed Virgin Mary called on humanity to repent and to turn back to the faith” He went on to say that “Sister Lucia shows us the way of the Immaculate, which is the school of holiness.” The message of Fatima he said and the call to conversion had the same elements of the Gospel, which is the call to conversion, prayer and adoration, and quoting blessed Pope John Paul II, who said that these too constitute the ‘New Evangelisation’
The Congress attracted many Archbishops, bishops, and priests in addition to the dedicated lay men and women who were evidently devoted to Our Lady and to spreading the message of Fatima primarily by their own personal sanctification and prayer. The Congress was address by Bishop Antonio Marto of the diocese of Leiria-Fatima to the delight of the delegates; the Rector of the Shrine the Very Reverend Father Carlos Cabecinas also greeted the Congress.
The Congress delegates were brought to the Carmel in Coimbra where Sister Lucia spent most of her life and where she died in 2005. Bishop Virgilio Antunes, the current bishop of Coimbra, and who was the Rector of the Shrine in Fatima, concelebrated the mass, along with some 30 Archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons. Afterwards delegates were able to speak briefly with the Carmelite Nuns in the cloister.
Members are asked to make a pledge to say the Holy Rosary every day for world peace and the wear the brown scapular as a sign of devotion to Our Lady.
Gathering Dedicated to the Memory of Sister Lucia of Jesus and Her Spiritual Legacy
By William A. Thomas
FATIMA, 28 NOV. 2012 (ZENIT)
The Congress was told of the many challenges that face the Apostolate of Fatima in disseminating the authentic message of Our Lady, given that there are many who try to distort the truth of the message and who have set up organisations with other motives and objectives. The motto of the authentic Apostolate is ‘Orbis Unus Orans’ which means the world at prayer, and this is the ultimate goal and requirement not only of the members, but of every living person.
One of the delegates from Poland, Mr. Wincenty Laszewski proposed, in his conference that both Blessed’s Francisco and Jacinta Marto; two of the seers of Fatima, be held up as model saints to help save the families of today. Quoting the homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the great Marian Pope, Laszewski said that “according to the Divine plan’ a ‘Woman’ clothed with the Sun (Rev 12; 1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father. She asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God — and behold, they see a light shining from her maternal hands.” The Pope showed us in his homily, he went on to say, a radical way to live as did all three seers of Fatima, once they received the light of God. Quoting the Holy Father again, Laszewski said that “The Pope taught that when the condition of the world gets more difficult, then the way to save the world is similarly more difficult — hence the multitudes of evil that we experience needs to be overcome by even greater good. Thus the spirituality of the little shepherds was to “atone for the offenses of sinners by striving to be good and by offering sacrifices and prayers.” Through the beatification of the little shepherds of Fatima, the Church holds up Francisco and Jacinta as models of holiness for today’s families-"with this solemn rite of beatification the Church wishes to put on the candelabrum, these two candles which God lit to illumine humanity in its dark and anxious hours — may they shine on the path of this immense multitude of pilgrims, may Francisco and Jacinta be a friendly light and may the message of their lives live on forever to light humanity’s way" (Pope John Paul II).
The International President of the World Apostolate of Fatima, Professor Americo Pablo Lopez-Ortiz summed up the conference with 10 challenges that the WAF faces and must overcome in order to deliver and authentic message that will yield a rich harvest, they are as follows;
1. The first is to live up to the great responsibility of executing the New Evangelisation of the world through the authentic message of Fatima. This witness must be borne out in family life, in the work place, schools and in the life of the parish.
2. The second challenge is for the WAF is to make known the authentic message in its uncontaminated pristine splendour.
3. The third is to teach people how to pray, given that Fatima and its message is not just a school of prayer but of holiness. In praying and contemplating the holy Rosary, Our Lady promised “Peace” thus peace must be the fruit of prayer, and all are bound to pray.
4. The fourth challenge for the Apostolate is to prepare the faithful and lead them into the sacramental life of the Church, while emphasising the need for frequent confession and the proper reception of Holy Communion. Included in this is promoting what Our Lady asked for — the devotion to the first five Saturday’s of the month while offering up one’s communion in reparation for the outrages, blasphemies, sacrileges, and indifferences by which the Immaculate Heart of Mary is deeply offended. Devotion to Mary is thus becoming that great antidote to dissention from the Church’s teachings and loyalty to the Holy Father.
5. The fifth challenge is to awaken a spirit of permanent conversion, prayer, penance and reparation, through the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, devotion to the Eucharistic life of adoration and frequent reception and to the holy Rosary as part of the New Evangelisation that the entire is now committed to. While transmitting the lives of Blessed’s Francisco and Jacinta and the Venerable Sister Lucia as models of holiness and true models of spirituality portraying both vocations of the contemplative and apostolic life.
6. The sixth challenge for the WAF deals with the culture of death, abortion, divorce, euthanasia and same sex unions or pseudo-marriages which offend God greatly. The WAF proposes to provide the spirituality of Fatima to pro-life movements in order to educate and to give moral formation to those who seek it.
7. The seventh challenge for the WAF its President said is to be fearless witnesses of the faith; “be not afraid” as Blessed Pope John Paul II told the entire Church on so many occasions. Be not afraid of criticisms or even persecutions for the cause of what is right! Jesus too has a right to walk our streets in our cities and towns — he is the New Evangelisation!
8. The eighth challenge is to provide funding for WAF for it propagation and the success of its mission
9. The ninth challenge is to work closely with bishops as an International Association of Pontifical Right. The Fatima message is not historic but active and progressive and on-going. The role of Fatima is interlinked with the New Evangelisation and given the high profile of 5 papal visitations along with the Petrine instructions and pedagogies there is an imperative to examine and teach the message of Fatima which corresponds in full to the Gospel message, and expressed in such a profound and personal way.
10. The final challenge for the WAF is to clear up the confusion and in many cases the conflict and despair caused by the deformity of the authentic message, making it banal, erroneous, and insignificant. There are many, even some clergy who are leading people astray and casting a shadow of doubt on the real message of conversion, prayer, and penance.
Father Anibal Castelhano, the vice postulator and rector of the seminary in Coimbra, gave a conference to the World Apostolate of Fatima in Coimbra during which he outlined the progress in the beatification process of the Venerable Servant of God, Sister Lucia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who died on the 13thof February in 2005. Normally the process should not begin until five years after the death of the person, but in recent years we have seen that canonical requirement lifted by the Holy Father in the cases of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, Pope John Paul II and now with Sister Lucia. “She lived here in silence and humility” Father Castelhano told the conference. He went on to tell how a Commission was set up which had three main functions, that of a historical inquiry into Lucia’s life and to collect all the writings and letters that have not been published. Secondly the Research Tribunal whose function is to collect all the evidence including oral evidence of witnesses who knew her personally. Finally the theological censors, who have just completed their work and have found Lucia’s published work to be 100% orthodox and conforming in every way to the Church’s teaching. There have been two miracles submitted to the vice postulator, one of these is said to have happened in Salta in Argentina when a little girl who had embraced a book with Sister Lucia’s image on it was immediately cured. “Sister Lucia the last seer of Fatima died at the age of 97” said Father Castelhano, “what kept her going was the promise of Our Lady who told her, ‘I will be with you — my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge.’ ” Sister Lucia had a great passion for the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order that this great project of God might be fulfilled, namely that the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart would be spread around the world according to the designs of God.
The World Apostolate of Fatima concluded its world Congress in Fatima on a high note and more determined than ever to be part of the Church and its mission of the New Evangelisation.
William A. Thomas is a Roman Catholic Theologian, Catholic Journalist, and Writer and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
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