Fatima 1917-2017

In 1916, nine-year-old Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their village of Fátima, Portugal. They were visited three times by an angel who identified himself as “The Angel of Peace”. He taught them to pray and make sacrifices. Then on 13 May 1917, the children saw a woman “brighter than the sun”, with a white mantle edged with gold and a rosary. She asked them to devote themselves to God and to pray the Rosary every day, to “bring peace to the world and an end to the war”. Jacinta told her family, and soon the whole village knew of the vision.

On 13 June, the lady revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven soon, but Lucia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Among other things, they were to say the Rosary daily to obtain peace and the end of the Great War. In the following months, thousands flocked to Fatima. On 13 August 1917, the children were interrogated, and they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August at nearby Valinhos. She asked them again to pray the rosary daily, spoke about the miracle coming in October, and asked them “to pray a lot for the sinners, and sacrifice a lot.” At the last apparition on 13 October 1917 in the presence of somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000, many witnessed a Miracle of the Sun, when it rotated or changed colour.

The three children claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary six times between 13 May and 13 October. Francisco and Jacinta died in 1919 and 1920, but Lucia lived until 2005. The reported visions at Fátima gathered widespread attention, as numerous pilgrims began to visit the site. The local Bishop declared the visions of Fátima as “worthy of belief” in 1930.

Such private revelations do not form part of the deposit of our faith and we are not bound to believe in any of them, however, many popes have voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events. In March 2017 it was announced that Pope Francis will canonise two of the visionaries,

Jacinta and Francisco, on 13 May at a Mass in Fatima during a two day visit.

Fr Matthew

The servant girl at Emmaus

Many poets, artists and musicians have been inspired by today’s Gospel. Here’s a poem reflecting on a painting in Chicago by Velazquez, “The Servant Girl at Emmaus”.

She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his – the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd, as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now? Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face – ?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching
The wine jug she’s to take in,
a young black servant intently listening,

swings round and sees
the light around him and is sure.

Denise Levertov

Thomas and the sacred heart

The apostle Thomas went from doubting Jesus’ resurrection to professing his faith in Jesus and declaring Jesus’ divinity, “My Lord and my God.” What happened?
He encountered the love of Jesus. We could say he encountered the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus said, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” In the Gospel of John life flows out of the side of Christ, flows out of his heart. Earlier in the Gospel, during the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus said rivers of water would flow out of him to anyone who believes, and this life-giving water is the Holy Spirit. When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side on the cross, blood and water flowed out, which the Church has always seen as signifying the sacraments especially Baptism and the Eucharist.
Now when Thomas sees the wound in Christ’s side he is overcome. The physical wound which Thomas saw was only the gateway to the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. What Thomas really saw was the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for him, a heart that is wounded out of love for humanity, the Sacred Heart that took the sin of humanity upon itself. That is what love does, love suffers for the other and Thomas now sees this suffering wounded love before his eyes. He sees Divine Mercy in physical form… Divine Mercy forgives, heals and restores. Jesus invites Thomas, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” Thomas is invited, as it were, to touch the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Thomas encounters the Sacred Heart of Jesus he is forgiven, healed and restored. His heart is also changed into a heart of love. He can only respond, “My Lord and my God.”
Christ’s Sacred Heart which raised up Thomas from despair to faith is ready to raise up each of us from any despair we may have to Christian hope. Christ invites each of us, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” Christ invites each of us to touch his Sacred Heart, to allow our hearts to become hearts of love. As we look on Christ’s Sacred Heart we too see that Christ’s love forgives us, heals us and restores us. In Christ’s Sacred Heart we too see the love of Jesus for us and with Thomas we respond, “My Lord and my God.”
Adapted from a 2013 homily by Fr Tommy Lane