THE BOOK "CALLS"

The Message of Fatima by Sister Lucia


Index
1. The three little shepherd children & their families. 2. The Guardian Angel. 3. The Call to Faith. 4. The Call to Adoration. 5. The Call To Hope. 6. The Call to Love. 7. The call to forgiveness. 8. The call to Prayer. 9. The Call to Sacrifice.



The three little shepherd children & their families

I will begin by replying to the questions you have asked me about the atmosphere in the homes of the humble children who were chosen by God so that He might accomplish his mighty purposes through them.

They were two Christian families which were closely related by blood. Aunt Olympia was my father’s sister and her first husband had been a brother of my mother’s. They had two children, Antonio and Manuel. After her first husband died, Aunt Olympia married Uncle Marto, who was also related to my mother, a cousin, in fact, though I’m not sure to what degree. Six children were born of this marriage: Jose, Florinda, Teresa, Joao, Francisco and Jacinta.

My own parents, Antonio dos Santos and Maria Rosa, had seven children: Maria dos Anjos, Teresa de Jesus, Manuel dos Santos, Gloria de Jesus, Carolina de Jesus, Maria Rosa, whom God took to Heaven while she was still very small so that I never knew her - and Lucia de Jesus Rosa dos Santos, who is talking to you now.

There was such a close bond between these two families that the children felt as much at home in the house of their aunt and uncle as their own; and in both would eat their afternoon snack some of the fresh bread still warm from the oven, made into a sandwich with fresh sardines from Nazare, or with slices of salted cod or sausage taken from the reserve that had been put aside for the consumption in the course of the year. At other times, the filling consisted of pieces of game which provided a family feast at certain times in the year; rabbits caught in the clever traps, partridges caught in the hay and in the corn fields, thrushes caught in the snares set beneath the olive trees and baited with ripe olives.

But the whole village was so united that it appeared to be one single family! Everyone knew which was the hole in the wall in which the mistress of the house kept her key when she went out. If a neighbour needed anything, she knew that she could go in and look for whatever it was she wanted, faithfully returning it later on. What tended to happen most frequently was for the bread to run out sooner than expected; in which case, one would have recourse to ones neighbour; then later on, when the new batch would be baked, one would pay her back with some fresh warm bread straight from the oven.

The little village of Aljustrel, which at that time comprised no more that about thirty-five families, was situated in the Serra de Aire in the Parish of Fatima, council district of Vila Nova de Ourem and the diocese of Leiria; at that time this diocese was extinct so it had been annexed to the Patriarchate of Lisbon. I don’t know if there was anyone living there then, even amongst the very oldest inhabitants, who remembered having seen the red clothes worn by a Prelate, or who had received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Like everyone else in the Parish the two families were poor, hardworking Christians, extracting all that they needed to live on from the cultivation of their own plots of land.

Their homes had been blessed with the Sacrament of Matrimony; and their conjugal fidelity was absolute. They welcomed all the children that their conjugal fidelity was absolute. They welcomed all the children that God chose to send them, not as a burden but as another gift with which God was enriching their homes, another life to prolong their own into the future, another flower to bloom in their garden, filling it with the perfume and joy of the many scents and shades of fresh smiling youth, another soul entrusted by God to their care so that, by guiding it in the ways of Heaven, it could become yet another member of the Mystical Body of Christ, yet another hymn of praise to eternal glory.

Hence, they made sure to bring them to the baptisma got from the first fig that had ripened on their own fig trees that year was a great deal, and it was this that made everyone happy, instilling in them a feeling of great joy and satisfaction.

Herein lies the secret of happiness, on earth and in Heaven: in love! God loved us and delivered Himself for love of us, writes the Apostle Saint Paul. God Loves us and for love of us He is in our tabernacles, waiting for our humble return of love. And God is within us, since we are temples of the adorable trinity: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3,16)

When this spirit of faith, and in spite of their lack of worldly knowledge, there admirable parents took the greatest care in safeguarding the innocence of their children lest anything should soil the whiteness of their infant souls. As the Lord Himself warns us: “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of My Father in heaven.” (MT 18,10)

Yes, my dear pilgrims, the Angels in heaven always behold the face of Eternal Light, and in it - as in any immense mirror before which everything passes - everything is present, everything remains as if carved in indelible characters: the past, the present and the future. Everything that exists and was created by God: heaven and hell, the earth, the stars, the sun, the moon, worlds known and unknown, all animate and inanimate beings, absolutely everything, receives its beings and life from the wish, the power, the knowledge and wisdom of that Infinite Light which is God, the one and only source from which is derived all life that exists, and of which every other light and life is no more than a tiny particle, a pale reflection, one of his sparks. Thus the Angels in Heaven, gazing into this mirror of light which is God, in Him, see all things, know all things, understand all things through their complete union with the God and their participation in His gifts.

Forgive me for this digression. I let the pen put on paper what my heart was dictating, but it will be for your benefit, to strengthen you in your faith, so that you do not allow yourselves to be deceived by those who deny the existence of God. They are wrong. Do not let them trick or deceive you, leading you astray on false trails which could well lead you to eternal damnation. But I will leave this subject for now and come back to it later, when I shall have another opportunity to clarify things of this kind for you. Let us now go back to what I was saying in reply to you requests about information about the three shepherd children’s family backgrounds.

Everybody fulfilled the precept of Keeping holy the Sundays and other Holydays of Obligation. In the morning, everyone went to Mass. In the afternoon people relaxed. The young people would meet together and have a good time in our yard, in the shade of the huge fig trees and under the watchful eyes of their parents who, in groups apart, talked about the work in the fields, played cards, and so on.

When the sun went down and the church bells rang, everybody stood up, the men taking off their characteristic cap and holding it in their hands while the Angelus was said, followed by the traditional goodbyes ‘Adeus’. It was time to go back home for a family supper after a happy day well spent, and with a good conscience after having kept the Law of God and restored one’s physical strength so that, at dawn on the following day, each one could again take up their daily tasks with renewed vigor.

After supper, the father would start the grace after meals followed by a string of Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s and Glory be to the Father’s for all the intentions that came to mind. Then the mother would lead the Rosary, or the Crown of seven Mysteries in honour of Our Lady of Dolours. There would be a few moments of conversation, discussion of the plans for the next day’s work, and then go to bed as the nights is short.

Early next morning the grown-ups and the older children would get up with the approach to dawn in the light of the rising sun; then off they went, cheerfully singing to the sound of a harmonica, guitar or fife, crunching underfoot the over-ripe olives, thistles, gorse and thorns in order to gather manna of life, as if for them as for the Israelites in days gone by it would rain down on them from heaven, together with the fresh morning dew.

As soon as the children reached the age of seven, they began to take their share in the running of the house by being taught how to look after the flocks. Like the Patriarchs and Kings of old, nearly every family has its little flock of gentle sheep which the children led out to graze in the green fields belonging to their parents. The flocked helped considerably towards the maintenance of the family; milk and cheese, lambs to replace sheep that had grown old, or for sale on the market; wool which the women of the house used to spin, dye and then weave, in order to make use of it, later to make warm coloured shawls for the winter, or to make mats for the humble bedrooms, or round blue serge skirts with wide red stripes to adorn the Sunday clothes worn by the girls. Gold earrings reaching down to their shoulders, glistening medals hung round their necks, a scarf over their shoulders and a cool hat covering their heads decorated with gold beads and coloured feathers completed their adornment.

Would that the clothes people wear in our own day had even a touch of the modesty, the respect of human dignity, displayed by those worn by the village women of those days! It will be good for us to recall here what Sacred Scripture has to say on this subject. “Yahweh God gave the man this admonition. ‘You may eat indeed of all trees in the garden. Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you most surely will die. The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye... she took some of the fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loin cloths. (..) But Yahweh God called to man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden.’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it’. Then Yahweh God (..) to the man he said ‘Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree from which I had forbidden you to eat (..) accursed be the soil because of you (..) It shall yield you brambles and thistles (..) With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread, until you return to the soil, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and dust you shall return.’ Yahweh God made cloths out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on (Gen2,16-17; 3,6-21).

This sacred text shows us the God covered the bodies that had stripped themselves, through sin, of the garment of grace. For this reason, we must all clothe ourselves decently, modestly and with dignity. Those who appear indecently dressed are an incentive to sin, and so are responsible not only for their own sins but also for those that others may commit because of them. Reflect that fashion, if it is indecent- and we see that the world unfortunately follows it as if it were a law- is a trick of the devil, a clever trap in which the devil catches souls, in the same way as hunters catch game in the woods and fields.

God did not give us clothing as an adornment in order to feed our human vanity and frivolity. No! He gave it to us as a protection against sin, as a sign of penance for sin committed, as a punishment for it, as well as to remind us of the laws of God which we are all obliged to obey.

Let us begin by examining how it is a sign of punishment and penance for sin committed and a protection against temptation. The sacred text tells us that, after they had sinned, Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves; but God did not think this was enough, because Sacred Scripture tells us, He ‘made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on’. (Gen 3,21)

Then follows a description of the punishment and the penance imposed on account of sin: Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken (Gen 3, 23) And this ‘until you return to the soil, as you were taken from it. For dust you are dust you shall return.’ (Gen 2, 17) Yes, your body will die because you sinned and transgressed the law of your God. But worse still, your soul will be lost forever unless you repent and do penance. You will die if you do not change your life, if you do not return to obeying the law of your God.

Notice however that it is not only for these two reasons-punishment and penance of our sins-that God clothes us; it served other purposes too. Besides being a protection against sin, the modest clothing with which we must cover ourselves is a distinguishing mark setting us apart in the stream of immorality and enabling us to be, for the world, true witnesses of Christ.

Clothing also serves to remind us of the laws of God, and of our serious obligation to obey them. God, in fact, asked his people to wear over their clothes concrete signs which would remind them of His Holy Commandments. ‘Speak to the people of Israel and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue, and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly. (Num. 15, 38-39)

Let us look at what God is saying here: ‘The tassels of your clothes will serve to remind you of the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly.’ Our clothes then, are to be protection for the eyes and the heart, so that we will not allow ourselves to be caught in the temptations of the flesh, the devil and the world. The tassels mentioned in the text undoubtedly envisage some kind of decoration on our clothing; but such decoration must be in accordance with modesty, with the dignity of the human person, with decency, in short, with morality, prompting us to observe the commandments of the Law of God.

Finally let us reflect on the expression God uses: ‘throughout generations’. This makes us think that God was not speaking for the salvation of the Israelites alone. What He said to them concerns us today, as it will concern those who come after us- not in the external form of the sign chosen which, naturally changes, but in the meaning and specific purpose we must not lose sight of, if we are to respect the order of things as God created them. Because the Law comes to us from God and does not change; it is immutable as He Himself is immutable.

It is not he Lord himself who tells us this in the Gospel: ‘Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass away from the law until all is accomplished’ (Mt 5, 17-18). Whoever keeps it will be saved; whoever does not keep it will be condemned!

Returning to the passage from the book of Genesis concerning the punishment for the sins of our first parents, let us not go any further without pausing for a few moments to reflect on another penance that God imposed as punishment for our sin: ‘In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ and ‘the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken’. (Gn 3, 19-23)

It is a punishment of work. We shall all have to work, to eat our bread by the sweat of the brow. It is a duty that no one can escape from, for the law of work applies to everyone, rich and poor, wise and foolish, superiors and subjects.

But do we in fact work in this spirit of penance? In other words in reparation for our sins? In a spirit of reparation and charity for the salvation of our neighbour? If so, we are giving its full force to the first and greatest of commandments: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mt 22, 37,39)

The Angel Raphael said to Torbit: ‘When you prayed I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead I was likewise present with you’ (Tob 12, 12) Will our work to be thus clothed with charity, and so worthy to be offered to the Lord as prayer?

Dear pilgrims, if by the work we do, and the lives we lead, we can offer salutary penance to God; if we can by this means earn Heaven and win salvation, why would we want to be lost?

However, now let us return to the family setting I was telling you about. Initiated, as I said, at an early age into the life of a shepherd, the children grew and developed in the pure air of the fields, breathing in the scent of simple flowers of the serra, of the heather, rosemary and gorse that grow in the thickets, of the lavender and pine trees, of the eucalyptus that crown the hill tops, of the holm oaks, oak and olive trees lining the slopes, of the enormous chestnut trees and fruit trees that grow in the fields and orchards.

In this oasis, the silence is broken only by cheerful chirping of the birds which flit about among the tree tops. They include gentle voices of the turtle dove and the hoopoe guarding their nests, the clucking of the partridges pecking about among the rocks in the middle of the cornfields, then there is the swoop of the swallows, and cuckoos which emigrate during the summer months; not to mention the swift flight of foxes and hares when someone disturbs the undergrowth, and the venturesome rabbits hidden in the hay.

Touched by the fresh early morning breezes, the children live happily with the creaking of the heavy carts used to carry home the crops, the music of the labourers, harmonicas, barrel organs and guitars, with the singing of the young men and women returning in groups from gathering olives or grapes, with the singing of the crops in the chicken runs in the near by villages and the church bell ringing out the Angelus.

Surrounded by the enchantments of nature, their innocent souls live with a longing of the supernatural which their intuition, prompted by grace tells them is even richer and more enchanting. Then when the sun goes down behind the pine trees, they bring their bleating flocks back to their pens, after which they run and play close to their parents whom they are never tired of kissing in order to show their affection. In this way their pure souls shine like the light of the sun, and their smiling eyes are as clear as the crystal clear water from a spring. Only Heaven holds a greater hope for them: it is their faith which prompts them to look upwards, giving them a more genuine smile as they look forward to a more valuable treasure. Their souls pray; in their parents arms they rest peacefully at night, sleeping the undisturbed sleep of those who have no cares.

I think dear pilgrims, I have now answered all your questions about the family background of the three humble shepherd children whom God chose in order to transmit His Message to you through them. Do not however conclude from what I have told you that in these homes there were none of the shortcomings due to human frailty. There were of course, but there was also understanding, forgiveness, peace and love.

Now in exchange for having replied to your questions, let me ask you some; If your own homes were not better were they at least as good as the two I have just described? Has your home been blessed with the Sacrament of Matrimony?

Have you accepted and still willing to accept all the lives which God may wish to entrust to you? Remember that getting rid of them is against the law of God who has told us in the fifth commandment: ‘You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment. (Mt. 5 21)

Do you keep your marriage vows, as you promised to one another before God? This too, is required of you by the Law of God when it says ‘be chaste’. This comes in both the sixth and ninth commandment which Jesus explained as follows: ‘You shall not commit adultery (..) everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ (Mt. 5 27-28) And God also says: ‘You should not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn’ (Mt 5,33)

Are you careful to bring your children to be baptized in order to make the Christians, remove from their souls the stain of original sin and make them heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven? This too has been ordained for us by God: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’ (Mk 16,15-16) In truth, this commandment of our Lord’s imposes a great responsibility on parents. Those who put off from having them baptized are exposing them to risk of finding the way to happiness barred to them, something far less than if they should lose the possession of the whole world. Yes indeed, for nothing can be compared to the Supreme Good of Eternal Life. And who can guarantee that your children will live while you put off such an important event?

‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Obviously a new born baby cannot of itself make acts of faith, but the virtue or the gift of faith is infused into its soul as one of the fruits of the sacrament of Baptism, which purifies it and releases it from the stain of original sin, making it worthy of eternal happiness. I urge you strongly not to make yourselves responsible through carelessness or lack of faith, for one of your children being deprived of the immense happiness of Heaven. The fact is that if you were to lose them (and I hope and earnestly beseech God not to allow such a thing to happen) this would be yet another eternal punishment for you.

Now to change the subject. Do you keep the third commandment of the Law of God which requires us to observe Sundays and the Holydays of Obligation? Do you do so by abstaining from servile work and going to Mass? Remember that God says in Holy Scripture: ’six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord’ (Ex 31, 15) Note the expression God uses here: a day consecrated to the Lord’ Hence the Lord’s day is not to be past in idleness, still less in unlawful pleasures, in vice or any kind of sin. Sundays and Holy Days are to be used to bring us close to God by taking part in the Eucharist Liturgy and other devotions, reading good books which will give us a better knowledge of God and His Laws so that we can fulfill them better, and engaging in wholesome entertainment which will enable us to recuperate our physical and moral energies. Only this can we have an easy conscience and be certain of fulfilling the Law of the Lord.

Are you careful to bring up your children in the knowledge of God and His Laws? Bear in mind that this too, is a sacred duty and forms part of the mission God has entrusted to parents, as we are told in Sacred Scripture: ‘When your son asks you in time to come, what is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day’ (Dt 6, 20 and 24)

Jesus, the Divine Master, did not avoid answering the questions that were put to Him about the Law of God, even when they were asked: ‘In order to trap him, teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depends all the law and the prophets. (Mt 22, 36-40)

And the book of Deuteronomy leaves us in no doubt: ‘These words which I command to you this day shall be upon your heart and you shall teach them diligently to you children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates’ (Dt 6, 6-9) In them fathers and children will find their eternal happiness. ‘Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their children forever.’ (Dt. 5, 29)

These words spell out clearly the mission which God has entrusted to parents in the education of their children. Parents are their children’s first teachers. It is in their father’s arms and on their mother’s lap that little children, while still innocent, must learn to pronounce the Holy name of God, to raise their pure hands to Heaven in prayer, to smile their lovely childish smile at the images of their Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

It is the parents who must guide their children’s feet in the righteous path of the Law of God and entrust them, in accordance with their means and circumstances, to competent teachers who will not turn them away from the paths on which they have been set. After all, what benefit would great knowledge be to them if they were to lose their immortal souls? By losing their soul, they will have lost everything, because our life here on earth is over in a flash, whereas eternity abides unchanging for ever.

Undoubtedly, the human sciences, with all the knowledge they contain, are good, especially when a wise person manages, by means of them, to discover the immensity of the power, the wisdom and the goodness of knowledge will instill in us a profound humility when we realize that after so much effort and study the greatest wise men have still not managed to understand fully understand even one of the countless marvels that issue from the almighty creative hands of God.

Thus every home must be the children’s first school where they will learn to know God and to draw near Him by means of the sacraments and prayer; where they will learn to prepare themselves for their First Communion, not only by being taught the precepts that embody the Law of God but also by having instilled into them that lively faith, firm hope and ardent charity which, when engraved in their souls at an early age, will abide there as a light to guide their steps throughout life. In this way your children will be happy, and the Bread of the Angels will be the food that strengthens them: ‘This is the bread which came down from heaven; (...) he who eats this bread will live forever’ (Jn 6, 58)

When you read these lines, dear pilgrims, some of you may ask yourselves what they have got to do with the Message of Fatima or with the atmosphere of the two homes about which you have asked me questions. Let me tell you that they have a great deal to do with it because, since the Message as a whole is a call to keep the Law of God. I think that it will have been the fact that these families kept these divine laws, in spite of the inevitable weakness of human nature, which drew down upon them the gaze of the infinite mercy of God.
Praised by Our Lord Jesus Christ! Ave Maria!



The Guardian Angel

The description of the two homes makes it clear that they were solidly Christian. They were, however, very far from being able to put any mystical ideas into the minds of the children, or any exalted spirituality such as is evident in the Fatima Apparitions. Hence, what happened could only have come entirely from God.

Having replied to the first question, I shall now endeavor to reply to the second, which is the one that is put to me most frequently: ‘Tell us Sister, what exactly happened during the first Apparition in which little or nothing has been said?’

It must have been in 1914 or 1915, shortly after I began to care for my parents flock of sheep, because I had already begun the life of a humble shepherd together with other children of the area, when we were surprised by an Apparition that completely puzzled us. One day when we were on the slopes of the hill known as the Cabeco’ we saw something like a white cloud in the shape of a human being, which had come down from the sky and was passing slowly in front of us, above the trees, that stretched down to the valley at our feet, as if wishing to attract our attention and keep our eyes fixed on it.

Some of the girls who were there told their parents what they had seen, but I said nothing beyond confirming, when asked what the others had said. I have been asked many questions about this apparition, which happened several times in different places. My reply today is the same as it was then; I do not know what it was nor what it meant. But I was left with an interior conviction which I do not wish to conceal, and which tells me that it was the Guardian Angel. Perhaps in that form and without speaking, he wished to make his presence felt and so prepare souls for the accomplishment of God’s designs.

Until now, I have not wished to say any more about those apparitions than I needed to say in order to reply to the questions that were put to me. Today, however I am doing so, not in order to confirm whether or not they were the Guardian Angel, but to tell you that Guardian Angels truly exist, and that they were created by God to serve, adore, praise and love Him. It is equally certain that God, in His abundant goodness and mercy has given each of us an Angel to accompany us, help and guard us.

I tell you this categorically, not simply because it was given to me to see; if such were the case, my words would not be very convincing. I am telling you what God has revealed to us in the sacred pages of the Old and New Testaments. You are free not to believe in what I myself say, but you cannot deny the word of God contained in Sacred Scripture. So let us have a look at some passages in which God reveals to us this truth about Guardian Angels.

When Moses was crossing the desert, leading the people of God to the Promised Land, the Lord said to him ‘Behold I send an Angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him’ (Ex23,20-21).

And the sacred text also tells us what happened to Jacob when obedience to his parents wishes and in order to escape the foreseeable violent reaction of his brother Esau, he set off for Paddan-aram: ‘He came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down into that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached up to heaven; and behold the angels of God descended on it! And behold the Lord stood above it and said ‘I am the Lord the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves.’ (Gen 28, 11-14)

I have heard various commentators on Sacred Scripture say God communicated with Patriarchs of old by means of dreams, as He spoke to the Prophets by means of visions. It must have been so, because if the dreams were mere dreams, there would have been no reason to attach such importance to them, neither would people come to realize how in fact, they were fulfilled in the time of Jacob.

We find the same thing in the life of St Joseph and the Three Wise Men, as the Gospel tells us. When the Wise Men had departed ‘An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him’. And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt. (Mat 2, 13-14)

As regards the Wise Men, the same Evangelist describes what happened: ‘Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?’ (...) Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, (...) When they heard the king they went their way (...) and going into the house they saw the Child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him (...) And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way, they departed to their own country by another way (..) Then Herod sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem in all that region who were two years old or under’ (Mt. 1-12; 16)

Wise and studious men such as the Wise Men would not be inclined to believe in mere dreams or allow themselves to be guided by them. Hence I believe that what they received were not so much dreams, as true revelations of the supernatural. All the more so because dreams, as compared with revelations, are less value than the night as compared with the day. In fact whereas dreams leave us a confused and vague memory of whatever it was we dreamt about, revelations are engraved indelibly in our spirit and leave a clearer memory even than of an ordinary conversation one had with another person.

A certainty of this kind must have been engraved in the minds of the Wise Men and of St. Joseph. Otherwise, they would not have attached so much importance to the dream, forcing Our Lady to get up in the middle of the night and set off for a foreign country with a tiny Child in her arms, and without giving her time to make any preparations or secure some means of transport.

In addition to the events just described, Sacred Scripture describes many others which prove the existence of Angels and how God sends them, sometimes as messengers, at other times as helpers or as guardians and defenders. Here are some passages from the sacred pages ‘Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, this is God’s army! (..) And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day (...) Jacob asked him ‘Tell me I pray, your name’. But he said ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life was preserved’. (Gen. 32,2: 24. 29-30)

One day when Our Lord was talking to His disciples, he said to them ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 18, 10).

And St Luke, describing the events surrounding the annunciation and the birth of the Divine Word and his precursor John the Baptist, refers to several interventions by Angels: ‘While Zechariah was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty (...) there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call him John...’ (Lk. 1, 8: 11-13)

In the six month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin (...) and the name of the virgin was Mary. And he came to her and said: ‘Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you’ (..) ‘Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God (..) ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. (Lk1, 26-28: 30.35)

When the time had run its course, Mary’s Son was born in the city of David called Bethlehem: now, in that region ‘There were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ the Lord. (..) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying; ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with who he is pleased!’ (Lk2, 8-11.13-14).

But already in the very first pages of Sacred Scripture which I have mentioned, and many others, prove to us that Angels really exist and also the purpose for which God created them, which is exactly the same as the purpose for which He created us; ‘To serve Him, praise Him, adore Him and love Him.’

With this conversation then let us sing with the psalmist ‘Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot upon a stone. (Ps 91/90, 9-12).

Bearing these truths in mind, it will not seem so strange to us that God should have once again chosen to make use of one of His Angels in order to address to us yet another call to obey his law and remember the end for which we were created.



The Call to Faith

I want now to go back over the Message which the good God, through His most holy Mother, entrusted to the humble little shepherds of the Cova da Iria, in order to convey once again his perennial to Fatima.

To say ‘pilgrim of Fatima’ is the same as saying ‘pilgrims of peace;’ I am told that there is a language in which the word Fatima means peace. At all events we are all pilgrims of peace. We all desire and long for peaceful days, to be able to live in peace. But this peace will not be achieved until we use the Law of God as the norm and guide to our steps. Now the entire Message of Fatima is a call to pay attention to this Divine Law. For this reason e will go through it step by step and it will point out for us the way we are to go.

When the Apparitions took place, I did not really know this Law; I only had a limited and very vague idea about it, no different from any other simple ignorant child, such as I was then, unable to read and write, and living in a place such as my home village, so far removed from education and culture. Moreover, in spite of having later lived in more educated circles, I confess that I only acquired this knowledge very slowly, through the light that God gave me.

In fact, only long after those events took place, and after I had written about them, was I allowed to read Sacred Scripture. Only then did I understand the true meaning of the message, although it had been given to me to understand it earlier, but in a less concrete way.

The First Call of The Message “My God I Believe”

It was the Spring of 1916..At least, I think it was, because at that time, being a child, I did not bother my head with dates, and might even not have known what date of the month it was! One day, then, about that time, when the three little Fatima shepherds were on the slope of the hill known as the Cabeco, beneath a rock called the Loca, they saw, some way off, a young man approaching them who seemed to be made of light. When he reached them, he said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me’. Then kneeling down on the ground, he bowed low until his forehead touched the earth and said the following words the following words three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I ask pardon of You for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You’. Then he said: ‘Pray thus, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications’.

The first call which God addresses to us through His Messenger is thus a call to faith: ‘My God I believe.’ Faith is the basis of the entire spiritual life. It is by faith that we believe in the existence of God, in His power, in His wisdom, His Mercy, His work of redemption, His pardon and His Fatherly Love.

It is by Faith that we believe in God’s Church, founded by Jesus Christ, and in the doctrine of the Church transmits to us and by which we shall be saved.

It is the light of faith that guides our steps, leading us by the narrow way that leads to Heaven.

It is by faith that we see Jesus Christ in others, loving, serving and helping them when they are in need of our assistance.

And it is also our faith that assures us that God is present within us, that His eyes are always upon us. They are eyes of Light, almighty and immense, which extends everywhere, sees everything, and penetrates all things with the unique clarity proper to the Divine Sun alone, as compared with which the sun which we see and which warms us is no more than a pale reflection, a fragile spark emanating from the Light of the Immense Being which is God.

What I have just said to you is nothing new: St John has already said it at the beginning of his Gospel: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (Jn 1, 1-5) St John speaks to us about the eternal Being of the Word of God; he tell us that everything was created by Him; that everything received from Him the being that it possesses. In his power, goodness, and infinite wisdom, God bestows on everything that exists all the gifts it needs for its subsistence. Hence, everything depends on Him and without Him nothing can continue to exist.

St John also speaks to us of the light of God, telling us that this light is our life: ‘in Him was Life and the Life was the light of men’. Hence our life is a spark from the Light of God shining within us. It came from God and must return to God, unless sin drives it away.

These truths open up paths of light before us. It is up to us to choose whether or not to follow them. Everything that exists is a manifestation of God, of his provident and redeeming creative work.

In our day, when science has made such progress, when daring men have walked on the moon, and the world rejoices in so many advances, let none of the wise men of today forget the name and greatness of the Artificer who created all these worlds which they so much long to explore.

Let me tell you about something that happened to me a few years ago. We had heard the news about two astronauts on their way to the moon who had not managed to each their destination. I went out into the garden with the intention of going as far as the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which we venerate there. As I went out through the door, I paused for a few moments to watch the bees from a hive in front of it. They were furiously busy! Then I noticed an ant crawling up one of the filaments of a spider’s web, in an attempt to get from there to the hive. But a bee returning to the hive loaded with pollen knocked against the filament and broke it and the ant fell to the ground, its aim frustrated.

Then I thought about the two astronauts who were lost in space and was sorry for them; and I thought: this ant falls to the ground and the bee enters triumphantly into the hive with the fruit of its labours! The two are an image of human power and knowledge set alongside the power and knowledge of God.

How much study, how many calculations, how much energy and sacrifices have men put into the effort of setting foot on a star which God created with a single act of his will, his wisdom, and his power. Being almighty, He placed it there and keeps it there, always in the same position, always following the same path which God has marked out for it for as long as God wills. And not only the moon. The same is true of all the other stars, too, known and unknown, which travel around in space where men can never dream of going. here we have side by side, the greatness of God and the powerlessness of men.

With these thoughts in mind, I took out my Rosary and went down to the image of Our Lady to pray, asking Her since God has not granted to these men the grace of treading on the moon, at least to grant them the grace of returning safe and sound to their country and the bosom of their families.

But faith does not consist solely in believing in God’s existence of God, in His power and in His wisdom. It has many other facets turned in other directions, and our full adherence must extend to their utmost extremities.

The word of God contained in Sacred Scripture is a revelation which we cannot deny because-as Jesus Christ himself tells us in His Gospel- “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves’ (Jn 14, 10-11).

We see that Jesus Christ draws our attention to his works, because what a person does bears true witness to what a person is, and confirms what a person says. Hence when St John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He was the Messiah or if they were to wait for another: ‘Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.’” (Mat 11, 4-5)

As no one other than God can perform miracles, Jesus uses them to confirm his word and his power of life: “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (Jn 5, 24)

So we see that the word of Jesus Christ is the word of God, because Jesus Christ is God equal to the Father in all things and able to say: “I and the Father are One”. (Jn 10,30) Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God’ (Lk1, 35)

When, at the Annunciation, the Angel addressed these words to Mary, he proclaimed the divinity of the Son who was to take human flesh in her womb and be born in order to make Himself equal to us, visible to our eyes and so able to accomplish the work of our Redemption.

Jesus Christ, then, is true God and true Man. His word is eternal life for those who listen to it and carry it out. To reject it is to carve out one’s own sentence of condemnation, as the Lord tells us: “If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me” (Jn 12, 47-50)

He had said earlier on ‘The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life’ (Jn 6, 63). The word of Christ is the word of the Father. ‘The Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.’ (Jn 12, 49b) Thus Christ came into the world, not in order to destroy the Law of God but to fulfill it, perfect it and explain to us its true meaning and how we are to understand it and practice it. His words were: ‘Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’ (Mt.5, 17).

Jesus Christ came into the world as a Teacher in order to teach us, to guide our feet in the way of truth, justice, charity and life. Any other way other than the one He has mapped out for us is a way that leads to eternal death.

One day: ‘Then the Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said: “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat’. He answered: ‘And why do you transgress the commandments for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, “Honour your father and your mother” and, “He who speaks evil of his father and mother, let him surely die” But you say, “If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honour his father. So for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said “This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (Mt 15, 1-9)

This text shows clearly the extent to which the law of justice and charity had become distorted, whereas in fact it requires us first and foremost to help our neighbour, all the more so in the case of a father or a mother. And it is equally just, charitable and necessary for us to help one another. That is what Jesus Christ taught us when he said ‘If you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” you would not have condemned the guiltless’. (Mt 12, 7)

From this we can deduce how necessary it was for the Law of God to be clarified because men had misinterpreted it. We have this clarification in Christ, who was sent to us by the Father and so can say to us: ‘He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (Jn 5, 24)

His teaching is precise and exact. But in order to carry out the word of Jesus Christ, we need to know it and to believe in Him. How can we fulfill a Law if we do not know it, or if we do not believe in the One who promulgated it? Hence, it is necessary to acknowledge the person of Christ.

In the world, there are unfortunately those who believe themselves wise but who know little or nothing about the Laws of God. Sadly moreover, people often argue against these Laws, not because they know them well, but because they see in them an obstacle to their own disordered passions, to their lack of justice and charity. And yet, it is the Laws of God that we should all be most anxious to know, as it is through them that we shall either be saved or condemned.

There are others who do, in fact know the Laws of God but who interpret them to mean quite the opposite of what Christ said, believing in this way, that they are justifying the disorderliness of their own disorderly conduct; they thereby cause great harm to themselves and to their neighbour, who they deceive by their bad example, their outlook and their misleading words. They are like those about whom Jesus Christ said “Let them alone, they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man both will fall into the pit.” (Mt 15, 14).

Hence we must be on our guard where they are concerned. By applying the rule that Jesus Christ gave us, we can know them by their fruits: “For no good tree bears bad fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.’ (Lk 6, 43-45). This is the guiding principle given to us by Jesus Christ: to examine the fruits of those who present themselves as our guides in the ways of life and see whether or not they are in accordance with the teaching of the one true Church of God founded by Jesus Christ, which possesses the gift of infallibility in recognizing and declaring the Truth of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit: ‘And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.’ (Jn 14, 16-17)

This promise made by Jesus Christ to his Church gives us absolute certainty in the ways of faith which we must tread, and which have been marked out for us by the Church of Christ, since the Church in turn is guided by the Holy Spirit; it is the Holy Spirit who speaks to us through the mouth of the Church.

I have been asked the following question a number of times: ‘How are we to know the true Church of Christ?’

The theologians who study these things will be better able to answer this question than I, who am poor and ignorant. I would not even attempt to do so unless the Sacred Text were there to elucidate the matter for us.

St. Matthew describes how Jesus Christ, having come with His Apostles into the region of Caesarea Philippi - as they crossed the lake to get there the Master had warned them against the false teaching of the Pharisees who did not believe in Him -asked them the following question: ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simeon Peter replied ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’ And Jesus answered him: “Blessed are you, Simeon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’” (Mt. 16, 15-19).

That was how Jesus Christ appointed Peter as Head and Leader of his Church on earth, with all the powers to govern, direct and instruct, under the guidance and with the abiding help of the Holy Spirit; and it was for this reason that the Divine Master gave him the gift of ‘infallibility’. If this were not the case, Jesus Christ could surely not have promised that whatever his representative did in his name on earth would be endorsed in Heaven.

We all know how men and women, mere creatures that they are, are subject to shortcomings and liable to make mistakes; hence it is the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to his Church by Jesus Christ that guarantees for us its infallibility: “The word which you have heard is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14, 24-26). And later on, reverting to the same subject, the Lord also said: “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father; even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; he (....) will guide you into all the truth” (Jn 15, 26; 16, 13)

Thus the infallibility of the Church is guaranteed for us by the words of Christ who is the Truth: ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14,6). Our way is the word of Christ entrusted to his Church, with assistance of the Holy Spirit. But your questions went further than that: “Among the various churches that call themselves Christian, which is the earliest and true one?”

As we have seen, Jesus Christ chose St Peter as Head and Leader of his Church on earth. He entrusted to him the deposit of his teaching, for him to keep and teach, together with all those who would remain united to him in the same faith, the same hope and the same charity.

St. John tells us that one day after his resurrection, Jesus Christ waited on the beach for his apostles who had gone fishing; and that he gave them a meal of grilled fish and bread when they got out of the boat: ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, ‘Yes Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him “feed my lambs” A second time he said to him: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him: ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him “Feed my sheep.” He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter (..)said to him, ‘Lord you know everything, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”. (Jn 21, 15-17).

Jesus Christ thus entrusted to the care of St. Peter the flock which is his Church; the lambs and the sheep, the sheep and the shepherds. Hence the true Church of Christ is made up of all those who remain united to Peter by the same faith, the same hope and the same love, which is the love of Christ. God is Love, and for that reason He elicits from His Representative a triple declaration of Love.

In truth, the Church of God is the Church of charity, of Love. It was precisely this that Jesus Christ asked of his Father shortly before He gave Himself up to death for us: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one as even we are one. (..) “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me”. (Jn 17, 11: 20-23)

We see that Jesus prays to the Father not only for the Apostles and their successors. And what is it that he prays for from his father? That the members of his Church might remain so united as to be one “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one”; so that “the world may know that thou has sent me and hast loved even as thou hast loved me”, and that they become perfectly one.

With these words, Jesus reveals to us the nature of the unity of his one unique Church. One single unity that dose not allow of division: The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. United in the same faith, hope and charity.

Before this prayer to his Father, Jesus had spoken at his length to his disciples. At one point He had said to them: Abide in me, and I in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me ,and I in him, he it is that he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. (Jn 15, 4-6).

In this allegory of the vine and the branches, we see that the members of the Mystical body, which is the church, depends on their union with Christ. He is the head of the church in the person of his Representative, and we are his members; He is the vine and we are the branches. Just as the branch, if it separated from the vine, dries up the yields no fruit; in the same way if we, though sin, separate ourselves from the true vine which is Christ, and cease to be fed by the sap of his grace, we clothed with the dignity of Christ with which we can enhance his dignity, and work for an increase of his dignity in the members of his Mystical Body, so that each one can become even more worthy. To achieve we must all give ourselves fully to the Lord in a life of faith, hope and love.
Ave Maria!



The Call to Adoration

The second call of the Message “I adore”.
Here the Message draws our attention to the first commandment of God’s Law: ‘I am the Lord your God (..) You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that it is in the earth beneath, or that it is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the lord your God am a jealous God’ (Ex 20, 2-5) And in another place, we read, ‘You shall serve the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you’. (Ex 23, 25)

By this Law, God commands us to adore Him alone, because He alone is worthy to be adored by his creatures. He forbids us to make idols out of the things that were created by Him and that are even more powerless than we are; they can do nothing and are worth nothing, which is why He forbids us to pay homage to them, or to adore them.

But we must distinguish between the idols to which God refers in this commandment and the images of Christ, of Our Lady and the Saints. We do not, nor should we, adore any of these images. We venerate them on account of what they represent and recall to our minds, in the same way we venerate pictures of our parents, our brothers and sisters or our friends placing them in the most honoured places in our homes so that we can see them better, and also so that people who visit us can see them and be reminded of them too. We venerate the images of Jesus Christ, of Our Lady and of the Saints because they remind us of the people that they represent, of their virtues and of their teaching, and so encourage us to follow their example.

Jesus Christ, who is our model in all things, refused to pay homage to anyone other than God. St Luke tells us that after He had been in the desert for forty days and forty nights, praying and fasting. He was tempted by the devil who said to Him: ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall be all yours’ and Jesus answered him: “It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. (Lk 4, 6-8).

Thus to adore God is a duty and a commandment imposed on us by God out of love, so that He can shower his blessings on us. This is clear from the following episode: when Moses was leading the Israelites tot he Promised Land, they all halted on the slopes of Mount Sinai. God then told Moses to go up to the top of the mountain in order to receive the Tables of the Law from the hands of God Himself. While Moses there in the Presence of God, the people fashioned a golden calf and worshipped it. God was very angry on account of this sin of the people and told Moses that He would destroy that idolatrous people: ‘And Moses made haste to bow his head towards the earth, and worshipped. And he said: “If now I have favour in thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiff necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take for thy inheritance”’ (Ex 34, 8-9). Thus, by prostrating himself in adoration before God, Moses secured pardon for the people and a renewed alliance with God.

How are we to adore God is described for us by St John in the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan. At a certain point, the Samaritan says: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship”....Jesus said to her, “Women, believe me, (..) the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. (Jn 4, 19-14).

So we see that what matters is not where a person is; the important thing is for our spirit and our intelligence to recognize God in His infinite greatness, his immense power and in thus paying homage to Him, to adore Him.

Adoration is combined with love, acknowledgement and gratitude, because we owe no one as much as we owe to God. Sometimes people express their great love for a person by saying ‘I love So-and-so, so much I adore him/her’. It is no more than an expression of affection, esteem, respect, for a person like ourselves. And ought we not to have it for God? Who deserves it more than, or as much as God?

It is true that in Leviticus, the Lord said: “You shall make for yourselves no idols (...) and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to them, for I am the Lord your God”. (Lev 26, 1), but we also read in Sacred Scripture that in the desert, when the people of Israel were being attacked by a plague of poisonous serpents whose bite was fatal, God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so that by looking at it, anyone who had been bitten would not die (Num 21, 4-9). Obviously it was not the bronze serpent that worked the miracle to save the lives of those people, but their faith in the efficacy of God’s word who had promised it would be so; it was the faith with which they looked at that serpent, which represented Jesus Christ raised up on the wood of the Cross.

It is in this way that we are to look at the images of the Saints, reminding ourselves what it is they represent, believing in what they represent, loving and respecting what they represent. ‘If you have faith you will move mountains’.

In the Apocalypse, St John tells us that he heard the Angel that had been charged with announcing the Good News to the inhabitants of the earth saying: “Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water”. (Rev 14,7). After contemplating the marvels of Heaven which God had prepared for the elect, St John wanted to prostrate himself in order to adore the Angel which had shown and explained these things to him, but the Angel said to him: “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Rev 22, 9).

Again it is St. John who describes for us the following vision: “And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying ‘Great and wonderful are thy deeds. O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy way. O King of ages! Who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy. All nations shall come and worship thee, for thy judgments have been revealed.’ (Rev 15, 2-4).

This is the canticle of our adoration before God. We adore Him with faith, because we believe in Him. We bless Him with hope in the conviction that all good things come to us from Him. We give Him thanks because we know that it was out of love that He created us, that it is for the sake of love that He destined us to share his divine life. Hence, our adoration must be a hymn of perfect praise, because, even before we came into being, God was already loving us, and was moved by this love to give us our being.
Ave Maria!



The Call To Hope

The Third Call of The Message: “I hope”.
All our hope must be placed in the Lord, because He is the one true God who created us with eternal love and redeemed us by sending his own Son, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, who suffered and died for our salvation.

It is this that the Gospel of St John tells us in recording for us the following words of Jesus to Nicodemus: ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into Heaven but he who descended from Heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemned the world but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’. (Jn 3, 10-19)

This Sacred Text spells out for us the basis of our hope: ‘so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.’ If the Israelites who had been mortally wounded were healed by looking at the serpent which Moses had nailed to the post, how much more we, if we can contrive, with faith and confidence, to lift our eyes and lift our eyes and gaze on Christ raised up on the wood of the Cross; if we can unite our own daily cross with his, our work, our toil, the things that go wrong, our pains and anxieties, with deep repentance for our sins and a firm resolution not to commit them again, our confidence will be rewarded as Christ promised: ‘All who believe in Him will have eternal life’.

In order to show you how great must be our confidence in Christ, let me remind you of the time that the Apostles were crossing the lake after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus had told his disciples to get into a boat and cross to the other side of the lake opposite Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. ‘And after he had taken leave of them, he went into the hills to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were distressed in rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the forth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified.

But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. And when they had crossed over, they came to a land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him, and ran about the whole neighbour hood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. And where ever he came in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many that touched it were made well.’ (Mk 6, 46-56).

This episode in the life of Jesus Christ teaches us the kind of confidence we must have, both by the behaviour of the apostles battling with the waves of the lake, and by the attitude of the people of Gennesaret who brought their sick to Jesus to be healed. The Evangelist tells us that all those who touched even the fringe of his garment were made well, because they touched him with faith and confidence. This is the condition that must be fulfilled if we are to obtain grace: we must approach Christ with faith, trusting in his goodness and his love.

What Jesus said then, to his apostles applies to us today as well: “Take heart; it is I; have no fear”. In the midst of the storms of life, it can sometimes seem to us-as it seemed to the apostles-that everything is a nightmare, making us afraid. But, if we know how to raise our eyes to Christ, we shall see Him close to us, and we shall have the happiness of hearing the harmonious sound of his voice deep within our heart re-assuring us; “It is I, have no fear”.

But if we are to hear this voice and understand it, our spirit must not be hardened; as the Evangelist tells us that the hearts of the apostles were hardened, which is why they did not understand the words of Jesus. Hence, our spirits must be free from excessive attachment to the things of earth, to the vanities which cause us to turn aside to the ways of frivolity, the extremes of fashion which give bad example and scandalize others, inciting them to sin. If, however, we follow our evil inclinations, coveting things that do not belong to us nor can legitimately do so, indulging in envy, jealousy and temptations to revenge against justice and charity ect., then things will make us blind and deaf to such an extent that we will neither see nor hear, nor will we be able to understand, the words of Jesus Christ, and in this way our faith and confidence will be eroded.

In the course Jesus’ farewell discourse during the Last Supper, the Apostle St John records for us a number of passages which inspire in us the same confidence. The Master had just finished washing the feet of the Apostles, after which He sat down again at the table and explained the meaning of what He had just done, urging them to humility and the charity. He then foretold the betrayal of Judas and when the latter had gone out to accomplish his perfidious purposes, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house, there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you (...) that where I am you may be also.” (Jn 14, 1-3)

He then went onto speak very intimately with His Apostles about his forth coming death, saying to them: “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. (Jn 16, 32-33).

Here Jesus assures us that there is a place in Heaven for us if we choose to follow his way, the way that he has mapped out for us by his word and by his example, the Way which is He Himself; “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me, (...) He who has seen me has seen the Father”. (Jn 14, 6,9). Hence, our way is Christ. He is our way by his word, by his teaching and by his life. We must therefore identify ourselves with Christ in order to reproduce in ourselves the life of Christ and see Christ in the Father, as He has told us: “I and the Father are One” (Jn 10, 30)

In this identification of our life with the life of Christ, victim of expiation for our sins, that provides the basis for our confidence and in which it grows strong. For we know that it is through our union with Christ and through His merits that we shall be saved; also that we shall become pleasing to the Father to the extent to which we reproduce in ourselves the sentiments of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that the Father sees in us the Face of His Word. This is the way that we must follow if we are to reach the place that Jesus has prepared in Heaven for us.

The great sentiments of Jesus, which we are called upon to imitate include his total dependence on the Father and His utter submission to the Father’s will, so much so that He could assure us that His own word was the word of His Father: “For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.” (Jn 12, 49-50). Begotten eternally of the Father, the Word received everything from Him. Rightly, them can He assure us that everything he has said to us was said to Him by His Father, and that everything He has communicated to us has come from the Father.

All we have to do is to follow this Word of Life with faith; to follow it with faith, and also with the simplicity of a child which, aware of its own helplessness, abandons itself in the arms of its Father, where it rests and sleeps securely, because it knows that its Father will carry it safely, protect it and lay it down to rest; and if it should happen to offend its Father by disobeying one of his commands, it knows its Father’s Heart and trusts in His love, and so runs to meet Him, confessing its fault, confident of His forgiveness, and wit the same confidence as before, throws itself into his arms. In God’s eyes, we are all children. He is the Father of the great human family: He rocks us all in the cradle of His Providence, and leads us all in the ways of love. Let us not wander from this way, nor tear ourselves away from His Fatherly arms! Then our hope will remain rooted in God, in His Word, in His Fatherly love, in His saving Hand. Like children in their father’s arms, confident of his infinite mercy, we shall know that our confidence will not be misplaced.



The Call to Love

The fourth call of the Message: “I love You”.
If only I were a Seraphim to tell you what love really is! “God is love”- St John the Apostle tells us-and as such He loves with an eternal love, in other words, from all eternity. We see this eternal presence of ours to God and in God foretold in a text of Sacred Scripture which refers directly to Divine Wisdom- which was of course prior to creation as it is spread throughout creation-but which Holy Church has no difficulty in applying to Our Lady: ‘The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth; before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him.’ (Prov 8, 22-30)

There can be no doubt that of all the creatures, Our Lady is one who has been most loved by God. Nevertheless from all eternity, we have all been equally present in the mind of God, and part of His creative design. Moreover, He created all other things for love of each one of us, because we have always been present to Him and loved by Him. We have an eternal debt to pay to God, a debt that can only be repaid because the love of God came first, and continually increases in intensity. Hence, no one and nothing is as deserving as God is of a return of our love.

We must therefore look upon the precept God has given us to “love Him”, as yet another proof of his love; it is a sign that He accepts our love, our gratitude, our humble return of love for Love. We are very small before the immensity of God, but we give Him what we have: ‘our love!’ It is a bit like what happens with children who cradle in the arms of the father from whom they receive everything, repay him with a hug and a kiss, symbols of their love. And the father smiles happily and is satisfied, because the child has given him a return of love.

We show and prove our love for God by the love we bestow on our brothers and sisters, because, like ourselves, they too are children of God, loved and redeemed by Him in Jesus Christ. If we really want to show our love to a father of a family, we shall find no more effective way of doing so than by giving gifts to his children. It is in this sense that Jesus, in the Gospel tells us that He regards as done to Himself whatever we do to one of the least of our brothers and sisters, the reason being that this brother or sister as we ourselves are, children of one and the same Father who is in Heaven, created in His image and likeness and destined to share in the eternal life of God: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1,27).

The work of creation is a work of love. God created us out of love, like a father, He guides our steps along the path of life. He gave us his laws, his teaching, which are the guide we are to follow: “You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, his statues, his ordinances, and his commandments always. And consider this day (..) the discipline of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm (...) You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house and when you are walking by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates”. (Dt 11, 1-2. 18-20)

All that God says to us in this passage is a manifestation of the love He has for us, in the same way as a father gives instructions to his children so that they may not wander from the path they are to follow.

On the days following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was besieged with tricky questions and problems put to him by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now: ‘And one of scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”. And the scribe said to him “You are right Teacher; you have truly said that he is one and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love ones neighbour as oneself, is much more than whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” And Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him “Your not far from the kingdom of God”.(Mk 12, 28-34). Thus, the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Love: to love, and to serve out of love.

But this love must be understood in the sense of respect for purity, for the chastity required by one’s state in life, for fidelity to God and to others, the keeping of any promises, oaths and vows we have made. Failure to live up to any of these points is an act of infidelity and thus a lack of the love we owe to God and to our neighbour.

We all want to be loved, esteemed, held dear, appreciated and deemed of some account. This is a desire that God has engraved in the human heart, because he created us out of love in order to love. Charity is the virtue that abides eternally in Heaven, where we shall sing the canticle of Love. And it is to enable us to get there that God is giving us His Law, placed right at the beginning the commandment to love Him, because it is this love that will cause us to fulfill all other precepts.

It was love that moved God to create us, to redeem us by sending his Son, who offered Himself as a victim of expiation to be paid on our behalf, in order to make reparation for our sins. If God had not loved us, we would not exist; we should have remained in nothingness. Hence, it is our duty, in gratitude, in appreciation, in justice and equity, to love God above all things, to repay Love with love, “Pay for love with love” as we Portuguese say. Moreover, it is an act of justice to love the One who loved us so much and from Whom we have received everything that is good. But our love must be sincere, cheerful and self-sacrificing.

Take the case of a good son who loves his father and does everything he knows that will please him. Even if he has to deny himself in doing so, he will do it so cheerfully because it pleases him to see his father happy; on the other hand, his father’s pleasure will in turn benefit the son because the father being pleased with his son, will take him in his arms, heap good things on him and do everything for him. Our love for God must also be like that of a husband and a wife. When their love is genuine, the wife willingly sacrifices herself in order to see her husband happy, and the husband sacrifices himself for his wife so that she too, may be happy. It is the familiar mutual exchange of love, which requires immolation, gift and surrender. And the fruit of this exchange is peace, joy and well- being.

Our love too, must also be self sacrificing. To begin with we must avoid what ever might cause us to sin grievously against God or our neighbour; in other words we must not disobey God’s Law in any grave matter. Then, we must also deny ourselves anything that might cause us to offend God or our neighbour in less serious matters, in other words by venial sin.

The love which will lead us to this must contain within itself the strength that will enable us to overcome our evil instincts which incline us to evil, those temptations to pride, envy, covetousness, revenge, vanity and sensuality, ect. Only by means of this battle with ourselves shall we manage to keep to the straight path of our love for God and our neighbour, as it is our duty to do so, as Jesus Christ himself tells us in the Gospel: ‘From the day of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force.’ (Mt. 11, 12) In other words the Kingdom of Heaven is won by those who deny themselves, doing violence to themselves in order to overcome themselves, to conquer their evil inclinations, the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh, in order to keep strictly to the path of justice, truth and love.

This is the effort that we must impose on ourselves, and it is this that gives value to our love for God and for our neighbour. All those who love, deny themselves for the one they love. This is precisely what Jesus Christ did for us. He sacrificed Himself and gave himself up to death in order to give life to us. What more, then are we doing, if for His sake, we sacrifice our fancies, our evil inclinations, our exaggerated vanity, our self indulgence, our pride, our ambitions?

But what am I doing by speaking of our sacrificing ourselves for Him? The truth is that the sacrifice is for our own benefit, since by means of it we win the Kingdom of Heaven, and we secure peace and joy on earth. We all want to live in peace and joy, to have a happy life, but we do not realize that we are looking for it in places where it is not to be found. Our Lord tells us “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteous sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven..(Mt 5, 5; 9-10).

The peace makers, who suffer meekly, are the ones who are blessed in this life because they are at peace with their own consciences, because they have denied themselves whatever was necessary in order to avoid offending God or their neighbour to do good. This is where true love is to be found. It is that overflowing love for God which flows out of her heart onto our neighbour in such a burst of faith and generosity that we see the face of Jesus Christ in each human being-whether he or she shares our own faith or not, whether she or he is a good person or is enmeshed in sin - and in Christ we love them as our brothers and sisters, children of the same God and Father who created us all and calls us all to share in the inheritance of Heaven. Hence, our love must extend to everyone. It is to this that we are called by the Message God sent by means of his Angel.

In order that our faith, our adoration, our hope and our love can be true and pleasing to God, they must reach out to our brother and sisters through our prayer, our good example, our words and our deeds. We must endeavor to help them and draw to them, in order to lead them to God by the right ways of truth, justice, peace and love. I say justice, because of this virtue must not be understood only in terms of punishment, for it is as much as a question of justice to reward the good the good as to punish the wicked. For who throughout the course has made every effort to study and has answered well in the examination, as it is to give a low mark to one who did not make an effort during the course, who replied badly at the examination, or who behaved badly. In the same way, it is equally just to pay and to reward those who work well and serve others, as it is not to pay those who through laziness, do not wish either to work or serve. This is so because the law of work applies to us all. We are all obliged to work and to serve one another, each according to his or her own aptitudes, position in life, culture, placing at the service of others the gifts we ourselves have received from God. The farmer who cultivates the land is not inferior to the professor who teaches the farmer’s children in school, because the former sustains the latter by the product of his toil, and both serve, each one working for the benefit of the other.

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”. This law obliges us all to work in order to serve one another as brother and sisters, children of the same Father who is God and who created us all for the same destiny: the Kingdom of Heaven. This is how Jesus Christ told us to live: “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither to be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mt 23, 8-12). These words reveal how are whole lives and all our activities are to be lived and performed as a service to God in the Person of our brothers and sisters, children same farther who created us all for the same destiny, namely, to possess supernatural life, which is the one we need to store up for ourselves and possess in as high degree as possible, as it is the only one that lasts forever. It is for this that we make sacrifices, that we pray and work: so that all our brothers and sisters may turn aside from their false ways and tread the one true path which is Christ, as he himself tells us : I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14,6).

In the same way and still in connection with the words of Christ quoted above, we must see in all fatherhood and human wisdom, the fatherhood and wisdom of God from whom is derived, as from its source, all other fatherhood and wisdom. It is for this reason that we call ‘Father’ the one who represents God to us and whom God makes use of to give us life; and we call ‘master’ the one who teaches us in the name of God. In this way, we see God in everyone, and in everyone we recognize the image of God, and are certain that we are all children and servants of the same God. This is the true way that Christ taught us: the way of the truth, the way of life, hope and peace. In order to follow it we must turn our backs on the way of falsehood, illusion and fantasy that holds the world in thrall. Why would we want to live in a world full of illusions? To be deceived by false companions, false promises, false ideas, which get hold of people and drive them into evil and misfortune? To allow ourselves to be mislead by our own fantasies and evil inclinations which cause us to look for happiness, where it does not exist? To be deceived by a desire for honour, riches, being given the first place, without reflecting that all these leads at the very least to the humiliation of nothingness at all? One day, Jesus complained of the blindness of so many in the world when He said: ‘They do all their deeds to be seen by men (..) and they love the place of honour at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men ‘ (Mt. 23, 5-7). When this life is over, what will be left of all this?

And what will happen to all those souls and bodies on the day of resurrection? They had no faith, they had no hope, they did not have a pure love of God and of their neighbour for the love of God. The Apostle St Paul speaks very plainly about all this: ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.’ (1 Cor 6, 9-10). Here we see the fate awaiting those who persist in following these false paths, who refuse to turn back and amend their lives, to repent of their sins and do penance for them, in order to embark, instead, on the paths of faith, hope and charity, which is the pure love of God and of our neighbour for the love of God.

This is the way that leads to life. And, in this way of life which we are to follow, the light is Christ, as He Himself has told us: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. (Jn 8, 12). This light shines on our steps, by the word, the life and the example of Christ. All we need is to want to follow Him. The incentive to do so is already there, as well as his invitation to us to do so, in the words: ‘If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said “Out of his heart shall flow a river of living water”’. And the Evangelist explains: ‘Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive’. (Jn 7, 37-39).

This water that the Lord mentions is a symbol of the Holt Spirit because the Spirit is the life in us, or rather, it is by the Spirit of God that supernatural life is born and wells up in us. It was of this same gift of the Spirit that Jesus was thinking when He revealed to the Samaritan woman that He possessed a water that was better than the one she had come to the well to draw: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4, 13-14). It is the water of grace which we have to plunge into, and also receive into ourselves so that in can then gush out from us to refresh the parched souls of our brothers and sisters and lead them to the fruits of eternal life.

And this, so that the faith in our souls may not weaken, nor the hope waver, nor the charity become extinguished, but may rather grow and be increasingly the bond of our intimate union with God and with our neighbour by our mutual understanding, help and pardon, so that the peace, joy and love may reign among all, in accordance with Christ’s words: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy maybe in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15, 9-12).



The call to forgiveness

The fifth call of the Message. “I ask Your pardon....”
Immediately after the call to charity, the message speaks to us of forgiveness, asking us to ask God’s pardon for our brothers and sisters and also for ourselves; for those who do not believe and for those who do; for those who do not adore and for those who bow down in worship before God; for those who do not hope and for those who have every confidence; for those who do not love and for those who practice charity.

The fact is that we all need to obtain God’s pardon for our lack of faith, which is often so fragile, for our hope which is often so weak, for our charity which is often so cold and insensitive, and for our adoration, which is often so languid. We ask pardon for those who do not believe, for those who do not adore, for those who do not hope and for those who do not love; and very often we ourselves are among this number!

For this reason, in what we call the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus Christ taught us to ask: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. (Mt. 6, 12,). As we see we cannot obtain God’s pardon unless we ourselves first forgive our brothers and sisters. It follows that we must not harbour resentment, ill will, dislike, and still less a desire to avenge any offence, whether great or small, that one or other of our neighbours, great or small may have committed against us. Our forgiveness must be generous, complete and self sacrificing, in the sense of over coming ourselves. It will be necessary to silence with in us the cry of revolt, to calm excited nerves, to keep a firm grasp on the reign of our temper and keep a lid on the heat on our wounded self love which, whether rightly or wrongly, feels bruised and irritated.

It is in just such circumstances that we are called upon to forgive our neighbour when he or she comes to ask our pardon: “So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent” (Mt, 5 23-25).

These words of Jesus shows us that God wants both forgiveness and reconciliation, and it is only thus that our offering, our prayer and our sacrifice will be pleasing to God and accepted by Him. Our forgiveness must be generous, sincere, and from the heart, and also clearly manifested so that God can forgive us too, in the same way. This is what our Divine Master teaches us: “Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours, but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either”. (Mt 6, 14-15). In view of these words of Jesus, our forgiveness of our neighbour is indispensable if we ourselves are to receive pardon from God. Hence, it is that the Message instructs us to ask for God’s pardon for our brothers and sisters and for ourselves.

God is merciful and is always ready to forgive us, as soon as He sees in us our own repentance and desire of amendment, that is, when He sees that we are sorry, that we have changed our way of life, turning away from the path of sin to embark on the path of grace. The Lord said to St. Mary Magdalene “Your sins are forgiven(..) Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Then addressing Himself to the Pharisee who had strong suspicions as to what kind of woman she was, and reservations about the kindness and understanding with which Jesus had welcomed her, Jesus said: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Lk 7, 47). The Lord saw in Magdalene’s eyes the tears that were coursing down her cheeks, He saw in her hair and in the ointment with which she anointed Him, her contempt for the vanities of this world and her resolve to change her way of life; He saw in her heart the pain and sorrow with the resolution to amend her life: “Woman, your sins are forgiven”.

When she saw Jesus, Magdalene believed in Him and loved Him. It was this faith and this love that caused her to hate sin, to weep over and to despise the vanities of the world, and to change her way of life. And the Lord was pleased with all this saying: “Many sins have been forgiven her for she loved much. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace”. It is faith and love which will cause us, too, to hate our sins, to be sorry for them and to change our way of life, so that God may say to us as He said to Mary Magdalene: “Your sins are forgiven”.

To the woman taken in adultery, Jesus said: “Has no one condemned you?” She said “No one Lord”. (Jn 8, 10-11). The Lord saw in the woman’s heart her sorrow and her desire to change her way of life; hence He promised not to condemn her and grants her forgiveness, on condition however, that she does not sin again: “Go and do not sin again”.

It was from the same point of view that Jesus addressed the people who were content with seeming to be good in the eyes of others without bothering whether they were in the eyes of God who, through His messengers, was constantly calling on them to repent and change their way of life and do penance: “The harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you” (Mt 21, 31).

It is true that the Jews were accustomed to offer sacrifices to God for their sins, offering up animals as victims; but they did not understand the precept of charity, above all in relation to the poor and the outcast, orphans and widows, whom they often left without justice or help, while for themselves they begged Heaven for help and justice. God’s reply, however was as follows: “Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. (...) my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”. (Hos 6, 4-6). Indeed how can an external sacrifice be pleasing to God unless we offer Him the interior sacrifice of forgiveness granted to others? It is because that act of virtue is so little understood that Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’. (Mt 9, 13). We really need to learn this: to understand fully that it is mercy and the forgiveness of others that must well up out of our hearts as the fruit of our love we owe to God and to our neighbour for the love of God, as love wells up out of the heart of God for us.

One day, St. Peter asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive his brother: “As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”. (Mt 18, 21-22). In other words we must always forgive.
Ave Maria!!



The call to Prayer

The sixth call of the message: “Pray, pray very much!”
As you already know, this call was made during the second apparition of the Angel.
The three children were sitting on the side of the well in the grounds attached to my parents house. The Heavenly Messenger appeared and said to them: “What are you doing?” Then, without waiting for a reply, he went on “Pray, pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayer and sacrifices constantly to the Most High. (..) Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you”.

Supernatural revelations are ordinarily accompanied by a special grace which clarifies their meaning. In fact, however, at that time, the three children were very far indeed from understanding its full meaning, as we can understand it today and transmit it to souls, as it is God’s will that I should, and it is for this that He continues to keep me here at His disposal.

At the time, the children could not begin that this call to prayer was not only for them, but for the whole of humanity. Today I look upon this call as a pointer to the way marked out by God for His creatures since the beginning of creation.

In fact, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which contains the word of God, we find the path God mapped out for humanity very clearly marked. Unfortunately, however, human beings have, on the whole, disregarded the end for which they were created. They ignore the existence of God their Creator; they do not know the Holy name of God, Whom they never have called Father; and they do not know the way that they are to follow in order to happy one day in their Father’s House.

Thus the greater part of humanity is the victim of ignorance, seeks happiness where it is not to be found, and sinks ever deeper into misfortune and unhappiness. Let us take a brief look into the world we live in! What do we see? What picture appears before our eyes? Wars, hatred, ambition, kidnappings, robberies, vengeance, fraud, murder, immorality, ect. And, in punishment for all these sins: accidents, sickness, disasters, famine, and every kind of pain and suffering beneath which humanity groans and weeps.

Men who consider themselves wise and powerful continue to plan more wars, death, wretchedness and misery, more shedding of blood into the sea of blood in which whole peoples are already drowning - the very people whom those so called wise men ought to be helping to live and to help themselves.

And all for what purpose? In order to drag humanity down and destroy it in waves of hatred, ambition, revenge, immorality... and to lose themselves into the bargain. Yes, because before long, they will be turning to ashes in the tomb! Where, today, are their predecessors who fought and lived in the same way? In many cases, it is not even known in what way they met their deaths. And where will their souls be for all eternity?

Their bodies have of course returned to the earth from which they were taken, as it is written: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3, 19). And the souls which gave life to those bodies for a time? They too have returned to the place from which they came - the Eternal Being which is God. In fact the soul, which is spiritual, was created by God in the likeness of God: ‘The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being’. (Gen 2, 7). It was this breath of life from the lips of God which gave life to our soul, creating it in the likeness of God, immortal.

Ever since Adam sinned by disobeying God’s orders, all his descendants have incurred the pain of bodily death. Our soul however, continues to live; it returns to God, if it is a state of grace; if on the other hand, it is in a state of sin, this very sin drives it away from God and carries it off to eternal punishment.

On the day of the general resurrection, we shall all rise again to be reunited with our souls and go to share the same eternal destiny which body and soul together have deserved: either eternal happiness with God, or the unhappiness of eternal punishment. Jesus Himself told us this when speaking about the work that the Father had entrusted to the Son of Man: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice” (Jn 5, 29).

This being the case, it is most important that we should win eternal happiness for ourselves because, whereas our life on earth is transitory, eternal life is unchanging and unending. What, then, are we to do? Consider these words of St. Paul: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we should also bare the image of the man of heaven”. (1 Cor 15, 47-49). This heavenly image of which this apostle speaks and which we must endeavour to reproduce in ourselves, is Jesus Christ; we must reproduce Him in ourselves by faith and charity so that on the day of our departure to eternity, the Father may see in us the features of Christ and welcome us as His children into His Kingdom; and also so that, in the resurrection from the dead, our body may share in the happiness of the spirit.

A little later, in the same Letter, St. Paul says concerning the last day: “Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (Cor 15, 51-52). So we have to make sure that this transformation will take place in us, in accordance with God’s grace which, in his mercy, will be granted to us in return for our own efforts of humble fidelity; and not according to the misfortune of whatever sin we may have incurred. Let us not think that all this is a kind of Utopia; it is a proven reality. If our incredulity were to lead us into such an error, we are lost. Truth does not cease to exist simply because unbelievers deny it! What was true yesterday remains true today and will still be true tomorrow, because ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ (Heb 13,8).

All of this shows our great need for prayer, for drawing close to God in prayer. It is by prayer that we secure pardon for own sins, the strength and the grace to resist the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh. We are very weak; without this strength we could never win through. Hence, Jesus urged His apostles: “Watch and pray that you may not enter in temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt. 26, 41).

It is for this reason that the Message renews the Lord’s words “Pray, pray very much!” This call to prayer is a repetition of the call to prayer so often repeated to us by God and which Jesus Christ left to His apostles as well as to ourselves: “Watch and pray”.

Various passages in Sacred Scripture show us Jesus Christ giving us an example of urging us to pray; and He not only urges us to pray, but He taught us how to pray, as in this passage from the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them “When you pray, say Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come....”’. (Lk 11, 1-2). Thus it was from His own lips that we learnt the Our Father, the most beautiful prayer of all the prayer we address to God, and one in which Jesus Christ teaches us to address God by the lovely name of Father.

This names opens up for us the mystery of the Divine Fatherhood and confirms in us the truth that we are all children of the same God; this truth, confirmed by Jesus Christ, that God is Our Father, fills us with confidence and strengthens us in love, because who has ever loved us as God does? Hence our prayer must be the point of meeting between the love of the child reaching out to the heart of the Father, and the Father’s love stooping down to the child, listening to what it has to say, paying heed to its requests, its words of praise and thanksgiving, and answering its prayers.

There are many ways of praying, of meeting God in prayer. Which is the best? The best for each person is the way that helps that particular person to meet God and remain in intimate contact with Him, heart to heart, thrilling with love for the Father and the Heart of Jesus Christ, assuming the same longings and sentiments as Jesus Christ Himself, becoming one with Christ as He wished us to do and prayed in this sense to the Father: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word (..) even as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. (Jn 17,20-21).

In this sublime prayer of Christ’s, we perceive God’s plan for us: to be one with Him by our union with Christ: “As you, Father, are in me and I in thee, they may also be in us”. But this union with God can only be achieved through prayer; it is in prayer that we meet God, and it is in this meeting that He communicates to us His grace, His gifts, His love and His pardon.

We see that, in his prayer, Jesus Christ also asked on our behalf: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who through their word will come to believe in Me.” And we have the happiness of being among those who, through the word of the Apostles which was transmitted to us by their successors, believe in the Lords which is what Christ also asked the Father on our behalf. I feel so happy when I think that I was present to Him when He addressed this prayer to the Father; that He was thinking about me and presented me to the Father as the child of His love!

He thought of me, He thought of you, He thought of the countless multitudes of his brothers and sisters. And in order for our own prayer to be imbued with the same yearnings and sentiments as Jesus’ own prayer, it must be united to his prayer for all those who will come to believe in Him and will be saved by his merits.

Let us go back to what I was saying about the various ways of praying. Our prayer can be predominantly vocal, that is addressed to God in words, either those that well up spontaneously from our heart or using existing formulas such as far example, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be to the Father, the Creed and many other such prayers that are used in the Sacred Liturgy.

This is the most common way of praying, and it is also the most accessible to the ordinary faithful. Moreover, it has been recommended to us by Jesus Christ himself: “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Mt 6, 9-13). This is the most sublime for m of vocal prayer, because it was taught to us by the Son of God himself. So we must pray it with renewed devotion, confidence, humility and love.

Then there is another kind of prayer which we must offer to God together with our vocal prayer: it is the prayer of our work, of the performance of all the duties in our state in life in a spirit of humble submission to God, because it was He who imposed on us the law of work. We must do it with love and fidelity to God and to our neighbour; in this way, our every day occupations, however seemingly insignificant, when offered to God will be a prayer of praise, thanksgiving, repentance and petition. Like Torbit, to whom the Angel said: “I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead, I was likewise present with you. When you did not hesitate to rise and leave your dinner in order to go out and lay out the dead, your good deed was not hidden from me, but I was with you” (Tb 12, 12-13).

This passage of Sacred Scripture tells us how we are to use the time that God gives us in our lives; part of it must be devoted to prayer, another part performing the duties of our state of life and the rest in doing good to others for the love of God. There are twenty four hours in every day; we are doing nothing special if we set aside a few minutes of each day for our encounter with God.

In carrying out our every day tasks, we must endeavor to be aware of God’s presence: call to mind that God and our Angel Guardian are close to us, see what we are doing, and in what frame of mind we are doing it. Hence we must sanctify our work, our rest, our meals, our wholesome entertainments, as if they were an ongoing prayer. Knowing that God is present, it is enough to call Him to mind and from time to time say a few words to Him; Whether of love-’I love You, Lord,’ - of thanksgiving: ‘Thank You Lord for all Your benefits’ - or of petition: - ‘Lord help me to be faithful to you; forgive me my sins, my ingratitude, my coldness, my failure to understand, my backsliding’ - or of praise - ‘I bless you, Lord for your greatness and your goodness, for your wisdom, for your power, for your mercy, for your justice, for your love.’ This intimate and familiar converse with God, transforms our work and our daily occupations into a true and abiding life of prayer, making us more pleasing to God and bringing down upon us extra special graces and blessings.

And we can’t say that we have no time for this kind of prayer, because it is precisely the time that we are using in order to do our work. Like a wife working alongside her husband, chatting quietly and intimately with him, telling him how much she appreciated all he does for the family, praising his knowledge and experience, encouraging him in his work, asking him for his help and advice, telling him about her worries and desires. Or like children who show their father everything, tell their father everything, and expect everything from him. Like a mother bringing up her children, who always has something to say to them even when they, either because they are very small, or because they are not paying attention, cannot understand her. God, however, always understands what we say, always listens to us, always sees us and always pays attention to us.

Then there is mental prayer, which is popularly spoken of as meditation. It consists in placing ourselves in the presence of God in order to reflect on one or other of the revealed Mysteries, some episode in the life of Our Lord, some point of doctrine, the Law of God, or even about one or other of the virtues which we find in Jesus Christ, in Our Lady or in the Saints, as an example for us.

This prayer is very advantageous if we make it well. In order to do so, we have to talk to God about the subject on which we are meditating; look at ourselves in order to see what we lack in order to grow in virtue corresponding to the subject on which we are meditating, as for example an increase in faith, humility, charity, or a spirit of sacrifice, in order to overcome our repugnancies and difficulties, our idiosyncrasies and defects, our temptations. And all this is accomplished in an intimate conversation with the Lord: discussing everything with Him, confident that it is He that will give us the light, grace and strength that will enable us to remain faithful to the end and achieve the ideal of supernatural life that we have set before ourselves and that God wills and expects of us.

Then there is the prayer that is habitually called contemplation. This consists in an even closer intimacy with God; in which those practicing it enter more deeply into the presence of God within them, abandoning themselves more intimately to the work of grace, light and love of God within them.

Wrapped in a supernatural atmosphere, the soul allows itself to be imbued, raised up and transformed by the action of God with in it, purifying and absorbing it; it finds itself purified, transformed and uplifted by a divine action which it feels, but does not know how. God can certainly grant this grace to a person without any effort on the person’s part, but ordinarily the Lord waits for the soul to reach this point by being faithful to the path of vocal and mental prayer, because it is by this way that the soul is purified and lets go of the things of the earth in order to entrust itself to God alone.

Very few indeed are the souls that reach this point because very few indeed are the ones who let go completely of the materialism of life, of the ambitions of self- love, covetousness, pride and marks of respect. And even if these do not reach the point of being actually sinful, they nevertheless sprinkle the soul with the dust of earth and prevent it from rising to the higher regions of the supernatural.

Hence they will never savor the intimate delights of divine love, because God can only grant these to souls when they are anxious to receive his graces, ready to listen to his voice and follow in his ways. There is nothing on earth which can be compared to the happiness experienced by a soul in this intimate union with God. Unfortunately we are not able to appreciate these gifts or the true value of such riches, nor do we know how to live this gift. For this too, we require a very special gift from God which we do not deserve, but which He grants is by His Mercy and out of the great Love He has for us.

In conclusion, prayer is necessary for all, and we must all pray, whether our prayer is vocal, mental or contemplative.

In addition to urging us to pray, Jesus Christ left us marvelous examples of the life of prayer. Thus, in the Gospel of St Luke, in order to demonstrate for us the need to pray always and without losing heart, He tells is the parable of the unjust judge. Immediately afterwards, we have the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in the temple: While the Pharisee was priding himself on his good works, the publican was humbly making his prayer, and asking God’s forgiveness: “God be merciful to me a sinner!” ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted’. (Lk 18, 13-14). Because we are all sinners, we need to pray with humility and perseverance.

In this, too, our divine Saviour gave us an example, because He took upon Himself our sins and prayed on our behalf. Thus, before beginning his public life He spent forty days and forty nights in the desert, praying and fasting in order to do penance for us. He wished in this way to set us an example, but also to offer adequate reparation to His Father for our sins and make his apostolate fruitful, preparing Himself for it by the power of prayer and penance.

Sacred Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ frequently went to the Temple and to the synagogues in order to take part in the collective prayer of the People of God. On one such occasion, when He saw the traders in the temple of Jerusalem, the profanation made Him angry and He drove them all out of the Temple, saying: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.’ (Mt 21, 13). Undoubtedly, what is said here about the temple in Jerusalem applies equally to our churches which are consecrated to God as houses of prayer. Shrines, churches and chapels in the parishes, seminaries, and religious houses must be houses of prayer where the people of God can gather around Christ in order to unite themselves with Him in addressing to the Father their praise, thanksgiving and supplication, so that in union with Christ they may offer to the Father their work and their sufferings, their day to day crosses and their sacrifices for the salvation of their brethren.

Our temples must be respected, because they are houses of God. Christ, true God and true Man, is there present in the Tabernacle at the disposition of his people, so that He can welcome them into His Presence, talk to them and feed them: “I am the bread of life..(..) If any one eats of this bread, he will live forever” (Jn 6, 48. 58)

Churches are the houses of our Father in Heaven. In the same way as children gather round their father to hear his words, to listen to his teaching and to act on his advice, so the people of God gathers together with Christ in the house of their Father, in order to listen to His Word, tell Him of their needs, receive His graces and sing His praises.

I am talking to you now about collective prayer, in which we must all take part. We go to Church to pray, to unite our own prayer with that of our brothers and sisters. This is what happens when we assemble together for the celebration of the Eucharist, to adore the Blessed Sacrament, to pray the Rosary and for other communal devotions.

Then let us not forget that there is also each one’s private prayer. All children look for a time when they can be alone with their father in order to explain to him their problems, and to ask his help and advise his light, grace and comfort.

It is in this prayer, lived in intimate conversation with Christ, that we must prepare ourselves to carry out the mission which God wishes to entrust to us, because it is in this encounter that God gives us His light, His strength and His grace, together with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Only thus shall we be true apostles to our brothers and sisters, transmitting to them the word of Christ.

However, in addition to these temples built by the hand of man, we have other temples which are no less real, where we must pray and offer to God our sacrifices: I mean our soul, our heart, our conscience. God is there! The most Holy Trinity dwells there! If we are in a state of grace, we are temples of God: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (Jn 14, 23).

We have thus come to this mystery of God dwelling with in us, which comes about not only through the real presence of Jesus Christ, when we receive Him in Holy Communion, under the consecrated species of bread and wine, in which He is present and give Himself to us with his Body Blood Soul and Divinity, alive and real as He is in Heaven, from which He descends to our soul, identifying Himself with us by a union of complete self-giving. Besides this, God dwells in us by the real presence of the three Divine Persons, who transform our soul into a living and abiding temple where he dwells unless, by sin, we make ourselves unworthy of his divine presence.

This is what St Paul tells us: ‘Do you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is Holy and that temple you are” (1 Cor 3, 16-17). The Apostle is here reminding us of those who, by sin, profane the temple of God, which is the soul, making themselves unworthy to have the divine Presence within them. We are called to be holy, that is, not to offend God by sin, by deliberately transgressing his Law in serious matters, or even lesser matters.

A little further on in the same letter of St Paul’s we read: ‘The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? (..) He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality (...) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your Body.’ (1 Co 6, 13-20). Perhaps we do not fully appreciate the inestimable treasure we carry within us and it is for this reason that at times we live so carelessly.

Our faith has grown dim, and so its light ceases to illuminate our foot steps: thus our life becomes slack, our prayer without fervor, and our intimate union with God gets forgotten and fades away. In order to respond to this call to prayer which God addresses to us by means of the Message, we must intensify our life of faith, so that it will lead us to practice the degree of renunciation required to avoid offending God and so remain in his grace.

We are well aware that our wills are weak and how much we need the strength of grace to enable us to overcome the temptations which assail us, the dangers surrounding us and the tendencies which incline us to evil. This is why Jesus Christ taught us to pray to the Father saying “Lead us not into temptation” (Mt 6, 13).

And as Jesus Christ has told us that without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15, 5), let us take a strong grip on prayer through which God will grant us the grace that we need to understand His commandments, know how to carry them out and so win for ourselves the help of His Fatherly love: “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (...) If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Mt 7, 7-8).

This is the promise that inspires our confidence in prayer and assures us of its efficacy.
Ave Maria.



The Call to Sacrifice

The Seventh Call of The Message. “Offer prayers and Sacrifices constantly to the Most High”.
This is the call to sacrifice, which God now addresses to us, is something which we find in many pages of Sacred Scripture. It may seem superfluous to repeat it again here; but it will not be in vain, because we are all so forgetful and lackadaisical about fulfilling this great duty.

In the Old Testament, the priests used to offer sacrifices of animals, which they presented as propitiatory victims for themselves and for the people. But these victims were but forerunners, images of the sacrifice of Christ, who was to be the one true victim offered to God for the sins of all human beings. This sacrifice of Christ, who came to put an end to the images, was to be perpetuated in place of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. And we have it renewed on the altar every day in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is an un-bloody repetition of the sacrifice of the Cross.

But that is not enough because as St Paul tells us (Col 1, 24), we must complete in ourselves what is lacking in the Passion of Christ, because we are all members of the one and the same Mystical Body of the Lord. Now, when one member of the body is suffering, all the other members suffer with it, and when one member has to be removed, all other members of the body are affected by this sacrifice; if one member is seriously diseased, even though the disease is restricted to one part of the body, the whole body suffers and dies. The same happens in the spiritual life. We are all ill, we all have many defects and sins; hence we all have a duty to make sacrifices, in union with Christ, the innocent victim, in reparation for our own sins and for those of our brothers and sisters, because we are all members of the one and the same Mystical Body of the Lord.

The Message calls on us to ‘make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners’. (Words of the Angel). They maybe sacrifices of spiritual, intellectual, moral, physical or material things; depending on the particular moment, we shall have the opportunity of offering first one and then another. What is important is that we should be ready to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself; in particular, that we should be ready to make sacrifices when this is required of us in order to fulfill our duty to God, to our neighbour and to ourselves. All the more so if such a sacrifice is necessary in order to avoid transgressing one of the commandments of God’s Law; in these circumstances, the obligation to offer up whatever is necessary is obligatory, because we have an obligation to offer up whatever is necessary in order to avoid committing sin. Our eternal salvation depends on it, as Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospel: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk 9, 23-25). From what our Lord says to us here, we see that we must be prepared to die rather than commit a grave sin which might cause us to lose eternal life. Now the same is true, and all the more so, if obeying God’s law demands of us sacrifices of something of less value than our own lives.

Renouncing anything which might cause us to sin is the way to salvation. It is for this reason that the Lord warns us that whoever would save his life, will lose it: in other words, anyone who wishes to satisfy their disordered appetites, live a sinful life, tread the broad path of sin, without repenting or making amends, will lose eternal life. How can we not ask ourselves with Jesus “What does it profit us if we gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit ourselves?”

In the same way, Jesus warns us: “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10, 38) Yes! How can anyone be a friend of God and worthy of eternal life if they do not deny themselves whatever is necessary in order to walk in the way of his commandments, renouncing illicit pleasures, the whims of pride, vanity, covetousness, avarice, excessive self indulgence, failure to practice charity and justice towards others, shrugging off the yoke of the daily cross or carrying it reluctantly without bringing it into line and uniting it with the Cross of Christ?

At times it will be the cross of our daily work: ‘You will eat your bread by the sweat of your brow” was the burden God imposed on Adam as a penance for his sin. At other times, it will be the difficulties of life which occur at every step we take, and which we must accept with serenity, patience and resignation. At yet other times, it will be the humiliations which happen all of a sudden and which we must accept, acknowledging whatever is imperfect with in us and resolving to amend ourselves with confidence in God, who always helps souls who mean to raise themselves up to a better and more perfect life: ‘Make of everything you can a sacrifice- the Message tells us - and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.’

God here gives us yet another reason for making sacrifices: ‘To make reparation for the sins by which He is offended your own sins and those of others.’ Whenever we offend a person, we must make reparation to them insofar as we can, for whatever upset or damage we may have caused them; that is why we are accustomed to say sorry, to apologize, and so on. Now, it is all the more necessary for us to do this in relation to God. It was for this reason that Jesus Christ taught us in the Lord’s prayer to ask for forgiveness: ‘Our Father who art in heaven (...) forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Mt 6, 9; 12) and immediately afterwards we say: ‘And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’ (M6 13). The fact is that the best reparation we can offer God is to combine with our petition for forgiveness a firm resolution not to offend Him again. That is why we ask for forgiveness, help and protection.

Notice that Jesus taught us to ask it for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters: ‘Forgive us; deliver us; lead us not into temptation!’ This is the call of the Message: ‘To make sacrifices as an act of reparation and in supplication for the conversion of our brothers and sisters who have wandered off in false and erroneous paths.’ Yes, to pray and make sacrifices so that our whole life may be a holocaust offered to God on the arms of our day to day cross, in union with the Cross of Christ, for the salvation of souls, co-operating with Him in his redemptive work as members of his mystical Body, the Church, which works, prays and suffers in intimate union with its Head for the redemption of humanity.

As we live our daily lives, we come across all sorts of sacrifices which we can and must offer to God. The sacrifice of gluttony, which in many cases is obligatory. To abstain from alcoholic drinks taken in excess, as these darken our judgment, interfere with our reason and degrade our dignity, leaving whoever overindulges in them prostrate before God and honest men. How many families are made unhappy on account of this sin. Why not offer to God the sacrifice of not drinking, sharing instead, with the poor whatever might otherwise have been wasted in sinful excess and have caused so much suffering, when so many of our brothers and sisters have not enough to buy clothes for themselves.

Such a sacrifice, which is demanded by the moderation with which we must serve ourselves from the table of creation, was one that God required, at the very beginning from the first two human beings. Sacred Scripture tells us: ‘And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant tot he sight and good for food (...) And the Lord commanded man saying: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”’ (Gn 2, 8-9. 16-17). Adam and Eve were free to eat the fruit of so many trees that they did not need the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; more over it was seriously harmful to them, which is why God forestalled it and forbade them to eat from it. The best thing they could have done is to obey God’s command and offer Him the sacrifice of not eating that fruit.

In this way, in so many other circumstances in life, we have to practice the virtue of temperance, which requires us to mortify the appetite of gluttony. God, like the good Father that He is, has placed such a wide variety of good and delightful things in the world which his children may, and must use as their food and even take delight in, but always in accordance with the Law of God and without forgetting to practice self denial of moderation which we must offer to God in thanksgiving for so many benefits and also for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need.

I am not saying that God asks of all of us, as He asks of some of His Elect, to strip ourselves of everything, give it to the poor and then follow Him in a complete abandonment of the goods of the earth; what He does ask is that we all should strip ourselves of any excessive love for such goods. Let us recall the conversation between Jesus Christ and the young man who had sought Him out in order to ask Him: “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you call me good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments”.

He said to Him “Which?” And Jesus said “You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself”. The young man said to Him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasures in Heaven; and come follow Me”. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 19, 16-24).

According to what I have heard from a number of commentators, Jesus Christ was referring in this statement to rich people who are avaricious and whose only concern is to amass more riches, and who in order to do so, avoid spending money and refuse to share their surplus with those in need. The Lord teaches is the same lesson when in connection with the Last Judgment, He describes the reason for the terrible condemnation meted out to those standing on his left hand: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” (...) “Truly I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me”. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ (Mt.25 41-43. 45-46).

We are reminded of all this when God asks us in the Message of Fatima: ‘Make sacrifices‘; and make use of whatever you have that you do not need or cannot use to help your brother and sisters who have not enough and are dying of hunger or cold. This is the renunciation and the sacrifice that God asks of us: if we do not sacrifice ourselves in this life, we shall find ourselves being sacrificed in eternal life and not only because we did wring but also because we failed to do good. “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was naked and you did not clothe me (..) as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

In order to attain salvation, it is not enough to do no wrong; we all also have a duty to practice virtue in doing good. Then there is another series of little sacrifices that we can and, to a certain extent must, offer to God. The fact that they are small in themselves does not make them any less pleasing to God, and also very meritorious and advantages to ourselves, because by means of them we prove the delicacy of our fidelity, and our love for God and for our neighbour. Making such little sacrifices enriches us with grace, strengthens us in faith and charity, ennobles us before God and our neighbour, and frees us from the temptation to egoism, covetousness, envy and self-indulgence.

It is generosity in ordinary little things that are constantly happening; it is making perfect the present moment. Hence: (1) To make our prayer with faith and attention, avoiding distraction as far as possible; praying respectfully, remembering that we are speaking to God; praying with confidence and love, because we are all in the presence of someone who we know loves us and wants to help us, like a father who takes his small son’s hand in order to help him to walk: in God’s eyes we are always small fragile children who are weak in the practice of virtue, who are constantly tripping and falling, which is why we need our Father to give us His hand to help keep us on our feet and walking in the ways of holiness.

Whether we make our prayer in Church, at home, during a journey, out in the fields or walking along the street, God is everywhere and is listening to our petitions, our praise and thanksgiving. This is what Jesus Christ has taught us in His reply to the Samaritan Woman who put this question to Him: “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship”...Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father, you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know; (.)But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (Jn 4 19-24).

God wants us to pray with truth, recognizing what we are, our poverty, our nothingness before God; realizing what it is we are asking for and promising with sincerity, ready to keep our promises. Let our praise and thanksgiving to God express the truth that is in our heart, in a spirit of faith, love and confidence; God is not content with fine words that are foolish and meaningless, or with formulas designed to win applause from creatures. No, our prayer must be humble and accompanied by a spirit of sacrifice.

Many times, it will be necessary to sacrifice a little of our time for relaxation; perhaps getting up a little earlier in order to go to Church and attend Mass; or at night, before going to bed, to set aside some time in which to recite a Rosary, making the sacrifice of turning off the radio or television in order to do so. It is the renunciation of our own likes and fancies that God requires of us; and, as has already been said, if we do not want to deny ourselves in this life, we shall find ourselves being sacrificed in the life to come, because if we cannot hope for salvation through our innocence, only by prayer and penance shall we be saved.

(2) To offer to God the sacrifice of some little act of self-denial in the matter of food, but not to the extent of impairing the physical strength we need in order to do our work. Thus, for example, to choose a fruit, desert, a drink that we don’t particularly like rather than one that we do; to endure thirst for a while and then slake it, but with a drink that we don’t particularly like; to abstain from alcohol, or at least avoid drinking it to excess.

When we are serving ourselves at table, not to take the best bit. But if we cannot avoid doing so without drawing attention to ourselves, to take it with simplicity and without scruple, thanking God for spoiling us, because we mot think that God, Good Father that He is, is only pleased with us when He sees us practicing self-denial. God created good things for His children, and likes to see us making use of them, without abusing them, and then fulfilling our duty of working to deserve them, and making use of them with gratitude and love for the One who heaps gifts upon us.

(3) The sacrifice we can and must make in the matter of clothing: putting up with a little cold or heat without complaining; if we are in a room with other people, let them close or open the doors and windows as they wish. Dress decently and modestly, without becoming enslaved to the latest fashion, and refrain from adopting it whenever it is not in accordance with those tow virtues, so that we ourselves may not be, by our way of dressing, a cause of sin for others, bearing in mind that we are responsible for the sins that others commit because of us.

Hence, we must dress in accordance with Christian morals, personal dignity and solidarity with others, offering to God the sacrifice of exaggerated vanity. s regards the question of vanity, to know how to offer to God the sacrifice of dispensing with exaggerated external adornment with jewels, which we can well do without, and the money from the sale of which we can use to help our brothers and sisters in need. Instead of wearing clothes made of rich and expensive material, let us be content with something much simpler and less costly, thus economizing in order to be able to help our brothers and sisters who have nothing to cover themselves with.

(4) To endure uncomplainingly whatever little annoyances we may encounter on our path: sometimes, it may be a disagreeable, irritating or unpleasant word; at others, it may be an ironic smile, a look of disdain, a contradiction; or we are passed over or set aside as of no account; yet again, it may be a misunderstanding, a reproof, a rejection, when we are passed over, forgotten, an act of ingratitude, ect.

Thus it is necessary to know how to endure all things, offering our sacrifice to God and letting things drop; to let all things pass as if we were blind, deaf and dumb, so that we may in fact see better, speak with greater certainty and hear the voice of God. Let others seem to have their way; I say, “seem” because in reality the one who prevails is the one who knows how to keep silent for the love of God. Cheerfully to allow others to occupy the first places, whatever is best for them, let them enjoy and take credit for the fruit of our labours, of our sacrifices, of our activities, of our ability, of things that have been taken from us, I would even say of our virtue, as if it belonged to them, and let us content ourselves with being humble and self-sacrificing for the love of God and of our neighbour.

To endure with a good grace the company of those we do not like or whom we find disagreeable, of those who go against us, upset us and torment us with indiscreet or even unkind questions; let us repay them with a smile, a little kind deed done for them, a favour forgiving and loving, with our eyes fixed on God.

This denial of ourselves is often the most difficult for our human nature, but it is also the one most pleasing to God and meritorious for ourselves.

(5) Then there are exterior penances and sacrifices, some obligatory, the others voluntary.
Obligatory penances are, for example, the fast and abstinence imposed by the Church. But we can and we must go beyond this limit, which is in fact very little as compared with the need we all have to do penance for our own sins and for those of others.

There are certain instruments of penance which have been used by many saints, such as disciplines, hair shirts, etc. Such penance are undertaken in union with Christ scourged at the pillar, bound with cords, crowned with thorns. If Christ suffered thus for us, it is more than just that we should do something for him and his redemptive work. Another practice is to pray, in the spirit of penance, with one’s arms outstretched in the form of the cross, in union with Christ crucified, or to pray prostrate with one’s forehead touching the ground, thus abasing ourselves before God Whom we have dared to offend, we who are nothing to his presence.

Although such penances are not obligatory, they are necessary in many cases; for example, to help overcome fiery natures which cause people to sin, or the violent temptations of the world, the devil, pride and the flesh. Jesus Christ, who was Divine, could not sin, yet He gave us a splendid example of a life of penance. Before beginning his public life, He spent forty days in a desert, praying and fasting. The gospels tell us all that throughout his public life, Jesus frequently withdrew from the crowd in order to pray to our Father in a place apart. And before delivering himself to death, He spent a long time in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. And do we, poor weak creatures that we are, not need to pray? We do indeed. It is in prayer that we meet God; it is in this meeting with god that He gives us the grace and strength, we need in order to deny ourselves by offering up whatever it is that is required of us: Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many, for the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it our few. (Mt 7, 13-14 ). Here Jesus Christ points out to us our great need for self-denial because, without a spirit of renunciation, we shall not enter into eternal life. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the most high.

Continued >>>





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"Typed by: Sue Burton
@Copy right Sue Burton. & Marianne Eichhorn.