The Message of Fatima by Sister Lucia

19. The Call to perfection in the Christian life. 20. The Call to a life of total Consecration to God. 21. The Call to holiness. 22. The Call to follow the road to Heaven. 23. The Ten Commandments. 24. You shall adore the true God and Him alone. 25. You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain. 26. Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath Day. 27. Honour your Father and your Mother.

The Call to perfection in the Christian life

The seventeenth Call of the Message.
In the second of the three further apparitions, Our Lord appeared as the Perfect Man and Our Lady as Our Lady of Sorrows.

What is the meaning of this apparition? I am not absolutely certain, but I say what I think and what God has enabled me to understand, by meditating on these events. It may be that Holy Church sees another meaning in them or has a different interpretation; if so, I would be fully in agreement. However in expressing my own humble opinion, I say that this apparition is a call to the practice of the Christian life as Jesus and His Mother lived here on earth and, by His example and His teaching, He taught us to follow in His footsteps.

Jesus did not come into this world as our Redeemer only, but also as Our Teacher, to teach us the way that we are to follow in order to go to the Father: “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also” (Jn 14, 6-7). Now this Way and this Life call for knowledge of God and of His Son, whom He sent into the world as our Teacher and our Saviour. Hence Christ said: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also (...) He who has seen me has seen the Father (...) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? 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 is in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (Jn 14, 7-11).

Jesus Christ left us the works He accomplished and that bear witness to Him as proof of His Divinity. Let us now take a brief look at these works so that they can confirm us in our conviction that He is truly our Teacher, the guide of our steps, and the example we are to copy.

Jesus lived in the world as a perfect man ho did His Father’s will in all things. These were His words: “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and he who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6, 37 -40). Hence it was in order to do his Father’s will that Jesus came into the world.

And the will that Jesus is to fulfill is that He should not lose any of those whom the Father has entrusted to Him, but He should save them and raise them up on the last day. However this resurrection requires our co-operation or, in other words, our faith: ‘For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day’. Yes, it requires our faith: we must believe in the Son so that He may raise us up on the last day. The first step in our Christian life is to live the life of faith; to believe in the Son and in the Father who sent Him, to believe in His word and abide by it. It was this that Jesus urged us to do: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11, 28-30)

When the time was drawing near for Him to give up His life for our redemption, Jesus, during the Last Supper that He took with His disciples, wanted to give them one more proof of his love and His profound humility. In accordance with a Jewish custom of the time - one day He Himself had pointed out that it had not been followed in His own case: “I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet”) (Lk 7, 44) -, the Lord Himself, contrary to all the customs and norms of the time, took a basin of water and washed his disciples feet, wiping them with a towel which He had fastened round his waist. When He had finished, He sat down again at the table and said to them: “You call me Teacher and Lord; you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13, 13-15). The fundamental basis of our faith is humility; Christ teaches this to us by His own example.

The Gospels tell us that after Jesus, as a young boy, had gone with His parents to the temple to pray, He returned with them to their home in Nazareth, ‘and was subject to them’. (Lk 2, 51). That was how He spent the first thirty years of His life: there He passed His childhood and adolescence and there He grew to perfect manhood. As a child, subject to His parents, or as a young apprentice for life, ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lk 2 52).

We see in this passage that Jesus studied and showed signs of His growth before men, even though some of the leaders of the Jews said that He had not been to school. The episode took place in Jerusalem, when Jesus went up into the temple and taught. ‘The Jews marveled at it, saying “How is that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me”’ (Jn 7, 15-16).

Besides the mystery of the Trinitarian communion between Father and Son that these words express, they also enable us to say that schools are not the only places where one can study and learn; with the help and grace of God, every family must be school where its members are instructed in the knowledge in the natural and the supernatural life. More than once Jesus declared that He had been taught by His Father in Heaven: “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).

Jesus Christ learned from the Father what He was to teach to us, and this is what He did: “he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him (..) When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” (Jn 8 26-29) When we reflect that every father of a family represents God for his children, then the father, like God, must be the teacher of his children; but in order to do this, he must have the necessary grounding in the knowledge of natural and supernatural things.

Jesus Christ was also our model as a worker. He is a worker who, fulfilling the law of work, earns His living with the sweat of the brow, as God had ordered all human beings to do: ‘in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life (..) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread’ (Gen 3, 17; 19). Being a humble worker, Jesus was known as the son of the carpenter; this is what the people of Nazareth said of Him when they saw Him teaching in his synagogue: ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty words? Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ (Mt 13, 54-55). He is a worker who humbly works in his father’s workshop; a modest submissive young man, falling in with the opinions and the orders of his parents.

The home was one where there was joy, peace and well being, because there was a supernatural spirit. United with one another, parents and Child prayed together, worked together, respected one another and loved one another. Hence God was there in that house. He was present to them and bestowed on them His grace, His blessing and His Fatherly help. Let us recall the words of the Angel to Mary: “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk1, 28).

When the day came that had been ordained by the Father for Him to begin His Public Life, Jesus Christ prepared Himself by baptism, penance and prayer. The accounts in the Gospels show us that everything was ready and waiting for Him: ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea (...) in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordon, preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (..)As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ, John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the throng of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Lk 3, 1-3. 15-16).

‘Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordon to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him by saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water (..) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness (..) And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 3, 13-16; 4, 1-2).

Prayer and penance are the solid foundation on which Jesus Christ rests his sacred mission of Master; Doctor and Redeemer.

As Master, He clarifies and explains passages in the Sacred Scriptures that were obscure or had been misinterpreted, summing up his position as follows: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5, 17). ‘Fulfill the Scriptures’, not in the sense of adding any norms and regulations that might have been missing, but carrying out to the full the essence of the Law: charity. Thus, the Lord corrects a certain intransigence on the part of the Pharisees when he says to them: “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him; how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for priests? Or have you not read in the law on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here, And if you had known what this means ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Mt 12, 3-7). We have here a lesson in charity and justice, showing us how to give pride of place to compassion and mercy for ones neighbour who is need.

On another occasion, the Master teaches us and invites us to differentiate between the divine and the human in the rules of life. The Pharisees and the Scribes said “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honour your father and your mother’, and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’. But you say, ‘If anyone 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 prophecy 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 doctrine the precepts of men.’ And he called the people to him and said to them, ‘Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man (..) what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and... out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, witness, slander. These are what defiles a man”’ (Mt 15, 1-20).

For his part, Jesus, too, challenged his hearers to ask questions about obscure passages in Sacred Scripture in order to discover in them the secrets of God: ‘Now while the Pharisees were gathered-together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David” He said to them, “How is it then that David inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet?’ If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?”’ And no one was able to answer him a word’ (Mt 22, 41-46), as they still did not know that the son of David was the son of God Himself.

Even though He possesses all this divine and human authority, Jesus did not wish to impugn the authority of the teachers of the time in the eyes of the people, so He restricted Himself to reprimanding in them the lack of coherence between their words and their deeds: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but they do not practice (...) you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren (..) Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greater among you shall be your servants; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. (Mt 23, 2-12)

In these lovely lessons of Jesus Christ which I have just transcribed, and many others which he has left to us, we see the obligation we all have to practice charity and to avoid any impurity which makes us unworthy to be with God and our neighbour. We also see how we enhance our own nobility when we respect authority and practice the virtue of humility. As our Master has said “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Mt 23, 12).

The teaching of Jesus Christ is light and life to us on our way. By following it we are sure not to stray. Many years before Our Lord came into the world, the prophet Isaiah foretold his coming in these words: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice as they divide the spoil” (Is 9, 2-3).

And Jesus himself confirmed that the prophecy had been fulfilled: “I have come as a light into the world that who ever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 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, 46-50). To conclude: Jesus Christ is our Master and Teacher, and His word is the word of God. Through it if we follow it, we shall be saved: It marks out the way that we are to follow all the days of our life.

But Jesus in His public life, also presented Himself as our Doctor, who cures our spiritual and bodily infirmities. One day, Jesus was having a meal in the house of Matthew - He had just called him to be his disciple - and the Pharisees who were shocked to see Him seating with publicans and sinners said to His disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9,11-13).

Jesus confirmed the certainty of this truth when He went as a guest to the house of Zacchaeus and witnessed this man’s conversion: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Lk 19, 9-10).

His primary concern is always to heal the wounds inflicted on our souls by sin, and to save those suffering from such great evils. We have an example of this in the way He forgave the sinful woman who had repented. While He was at table a woman came to Him who was known publicly as a sinner; throwing herself at His feet, she began to weep over her sins. Jesus turned to her and said: “Your sins are forgiven. (..)Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Mt 7, 48. 50).

However, He did not limit Himself to healing souls, converting sinners and forgiving sins. He also performed physical cures. Interesting in this connection is the healing of the paralyzed man in Capernaum, because Jesus pointed to the physical cure as a proof of the power He possessed to cure spiritual ills. In fact this is how He began: “Be of good heart son, your sins are forgiven”. But He was accused of blasphemy for saying those words. Jesus defended Himself saying: “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins - he then said to the paralytic - ‘Rise, take up your bed and go home”. And he rose and went home’ (Mt 9, 6-7).

Christ performed many other similar miracles for the benefit of people who were in despair on account of their suffering. One day, one of the leaders of the synagogue, called Jairus, came to Him and asked Him to go to his house to heal his daughter, who was at the point of death. Jesus granted his request and went with him. While they were on their way, a woman who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment, thinking to herself that she only needed to touch Him in order to be healed. And that is what happened: ‘and immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed from the disease. (...) “Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mk 5, 29, 34). While this was happening: ‘there came from the rulers house some who said “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they had said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe” (..)He put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her: “Talitha cumi;” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise”. And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old’ (Mk 5, 35-42).

One day Jesus was walking along and ‘two blind men followed him crying aloud, “Have mercy on us Son of David”. When he entered the house the blind men came up to him; and Jesus said to them: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him: “Yes, Lord”. Then he touched their eyes, saying “According to your faith be it done to you”. And their eyes were opened’ (Mt 9, 27-30).

Another day they brought a dumb man to Him who was possessed by the devil. Jesus drove out the devil and the dumb man spoke. When the crowd saw this, they cried out: “Never was anything like this seen in Israel”. (Mt 9, 33). And this happened a good many times! ‘And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and infirmity’ (Mt 9, 35).

Jesus did all this out of compassion for those who were suffering, in the conviction that every opportunity was a good one for doing good. On another occasion he went to the synagogue. There He encountered a man who had a withered hand, and the bystanders asked Jesus: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” So that they might accuse him. He said to them: “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep” So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”, And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, whole like the other” (Mt 12, 10-13).

When John the Baptist sent his own disciples to Jesus to ask Him whether He was Himself the Messiah or whether they were to wait for another to come, Jesus replied: ‘Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and what you 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. And blessed is he who takes no offence at me” (Mt 11, 4-6). This reply to the disciples of John the Baptist has the same meaning and weight as another reply that Christ made to the Jewish leaders when they asked the same question: “If you are Christ, tell us plainly” Jesus answered them: “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; (..) If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”. (Jn 10, 24-25; 37-38).

Even before that Jesus had touched on this subject in His preaching to the Jewish leaders: “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. (...) But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John (the Baptist), for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works I am doing, bear witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (Jn 5, 33-40).

Thus Jesus Christ has left us his works and the sublime nature of his teaching as a proof of His divinity. And we do not wonder at it! He only asks us to use in his regard the same criterion that on another occasion He recommended to us to enable us to distinguish between true and false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits (...) So every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit. Nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (..) Thus you will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7, 16 -20).

Finally let us look at the sacred mission of Redeemer which was entrusted to Jesus Christ by the Father when He sent Him to earth. Various passages present Him in this light, namely as Saviour of the world.

When St John the Baptist was administering the baptism of penance in the River Jordon, ‘he saw Jesus coming toward him, and he said: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1, 29). And He took them away. The author of the sacred text just quoted - St John the Evangelist - later wrote in his first Epistle: “God is light and in him is no darkness (...) if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (..) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness” (1Jn 1, 5-9).

When holy Simeon finally had the joy of finding the Child Jesus in the Temple, he greeted Him ‘the salvation that all people were waiting for’ and exclaimed joyfully: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel” (Lk 2, 29-32). Echoes of a number of prophetic oracles are to be heard in Simeon’s words, including that of the prophet Isaiah: “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Is 49, 6).

Throughout His public ministry, Jesus Christ revealed by His words and deeds that He was a Saviour. He reached out to people in order to lead them in the ways of salvation. His comment on the parable of the good shepherd is significant: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (..) as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep (..) I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10, 10; 15; 28).

It was this pastoral concern that led Jesus Christ to wait for the Samaritan woman at the well of Sichar and to ask her for a drink: “Give me a drink” (..) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you a Jew ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (..) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (..) “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 shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The Woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (Jn 4, 7. 9-15).

Jesus had won this soul and, with hers, those of many of the others who came to listen to Him. That was why, when the disciples urged Him to eat, He said to them: “I have food to eat of which you do not know (..) My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his works” (Jn 4, 32. 34).

To the woman taken in adultery, after her accusers had all gone away and left her, Jesus ‘said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said: “No one Lord”, And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again”. - It is mercy which when met with repentance, grants forgiveness, though on one condition -do not sin again - because that is how one is saved.

In the same day, when Jesus later encountered the paralytic who He had cured by the pool of Bethzatha, He said to him: “See, you are well! Sin no more that nothing worse befalls you.” (Jn 8, 10-11). And the same is true of us today. He forgives us our sins but on the condition that we are truly resolved not to sin again. A firm purpose of amendment is one of the requirements for a good confession.

In order to help us, Christ chose to remain on earth with us: “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14, 18-21).

It is not a question of mere spiritual presence within us. Jesus wished to be truly with us, under the consecrated appearance of bread and wine, in the Sacrament of the Altar. Here He remains as victim and priest on our behalf until the end of time, since He is an eternal priest: “Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Mel-chizedek. (Heb 5,6).

This is so because ‘When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, than through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant’ (Heb 9, 11-15).

Thus Jesus Christ is the high priest who offers Himself daily on our altars, in order to offer to the Father suitable reparation for our sins. We see this in the words He used in consecrating the bread: “Take; this is my body” - and -the wine “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mk 14, 24b).

In this Call of the Message we also have the apparition of Our Lady of Sorrows, with a meaning that we must not fail to recall. By means of this vision, God will have wished to show us the value of suffering, sacrifice and immolation for the sake of love. In the world of today hardly anyone wants to hear these truths, such is the extent to which people are living in search of pleasure, of empty worldly happiness, and exaggerated comfort. But the more one flees from suffering, the more we find ourselves immersed in a sea of afflictions, disappointments and suffering.

Life brings with it the martyrdom of the Cross. There is no one in the world who does not have to suffer in some way. We have inherited the mystery of suffering as a consequence of the sin committed by the first parents of the human race: ‘Because you (..) have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you “You shall not eat of it”, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life’ (Gen 3, 17). The reference here is to suffering to which all human beings are subject.

Jesus Christ came to redeem us by suffering; and His Mother shared as Co - Redemptrix in the atrocious suffering of His Passion, having been given to us as Mother at the foot of the Cross. In the apparition in October 1917 that we are discussing here, She presents herself to us in the image of suffering. The Church calls her Mother of Sorrows, Our lady of Sorrows, because in Her Heart she suffered the martyrdom of Christ, with Him and by His side. It is by our union with Christ that suffering can make us victim pleasing to the Father, and make us holy.

Mary was chosen by God to be Mother of His Son - the Mother of Jesus Christ - and the Mother of His Mystical Body, the Church, which is Her spiritual progeny. When He was dying in agony on the Cross, Jesus gave Her to us all as Mother, in the person of St. John: “Behold your Mother” (Jn 19,27). We are all the children of the suffering and bitterness of the heart of Jesus Christ, and of the heart of His Mother, and ours.

It is for this reason that all suffering united with His completes our dedication and commitment to God and contributes to the salvation of our brothers and sisters who have gone astray. Jesus said: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also” (Jn 10, 16). In order to collaborate with Christ in this mission, we must suffer, work, pray and love because it is by charity that we shall win back our lost brethren, as the Lord Himself said: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13, 35).

Love is the magnet which draws souls, and it is for them that we offer to God our sacrifices, our acts of self- denial, our infirmities, our pains and aches, and our physical and moral sufferings. By means of them, we offer our entire consecration to God, and it is by means of them that our prayer is lifted to Him before His altar. Thinking of them, we wish to be able, like Christ and with Christ, to say to the Father: “I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition” (Jn 17, 22). This was because Judas withstood your grace, was unfaithful to your call and despised your Fatherly Love. If it is still possible, Father, save him!
Ave Maria!

The Call to a life of total Consecration to God

The eighteenth call of the message.
In my view, the apparition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel means total consecration to God. By showing herself clothed in a religious habit, she wished to represent all the other habits by which those who are totally consecrated to God can be distinguished from ordinary secular Christians.

Habits are the distinguishing mark of a consecration, a protection of decorum and Christian modesty, a means of defense for the consecrated person. Those who are consecrated value them in the same way as soldiers value their uniforms and graduates their coloured stripes: the habit marks them out and indicates what they are and the place they occupy, while at the same time obliging them to behave in a way that is appropriate to their status. Hence, to lay aside the habit is a retrograde step; it is to disappear into the ranks of those who have not been called or chosen for something higher; it is to strip oneself of a mark of distinction that singles a person out and raises a person up; it is to descend to a lower level, in order to live like those who have not been called to a higher one.

Those who, one day, heard the voice of God and decided to follow his call in a life of total consecration, thereby raised themselves to a higher plane that sets them apart from the rest of their brothers and sisters. This distinction must be interiorly visible in the eyes of God, and also be reflected exteriorly in the sight of others. it is a witness that we must give of the presence of Christ in us, according to the state that we embraced and the state that we occupy.

Jesus Christ knew that He was being criticized for mixing with publicans and sinners and eating with them, but this did not cause Him to conceal in anyway what He was doing. He endured the criticism in order to accomplish the mission that the Father had entrusted to Him, and also to reveal who He was. We have His example, let us look at His words: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this (...) generation, of him will the son of man also be ashamed” (Mk 8, 34-38). In another place He says: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. You are the light of the world (...) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5, 13-16).

It was for this that we were called and chosen by Christ: to follow Him, turning our backs on ourselves and all earthly things, in order to bear witness to Christ and confess Him to the ends of the earth; proclaiming and teaching His doctrine by word and by example in order to be light for men and women so that they can see in us the image of Christ.

Let us reflect on these words of Jesus: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15, 16). We have been chosen in order to bear fruit and our fruit remains, by our persevering fidelity to the gift that we have received from God and the promise we made when we accepted this gift.

In the Gospel, Jesus says to everyone, but in particular to consecrated souls: “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 are few”. (Mt 7, 13-14). Only a few, the Lord says, follow the narrow path that leads to life, while many chose the broad path that leads to perdition. If we want to follow the wide paths, the paths of an exaggerated freedom that sets aside due submission to authority in the practice of the virtue of obedience, we have gone astray because Jesus Christ has called us to follow Him, and He was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross as St. Paul the Apostle says (Phil 2, 8).

The Divine Master says to those He close to go and preach to the people in His Name. “He that hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lk 10, 16). What the Lord says to us here requires the virtue of faith. All of us, but more especially consecrated souls, need to live by faith: that faith which sees God in others, in authority, and in everything that happens; that faith which assures us that authority, and represents God and that, by obeying, we are doing the will of God. The most outstanding example of this obedience was given to us by Jesus Christ Himself when He said: “He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8, 29). Every consecrated person both accepted, and promised, in imitation of the Saviour, to do always what is pleasing to our Father in Heaven, or, to put it another way, to do the will of God as manifested to us by those who represent Him to us.

Renouncing our own will in order to do always the will of God is our holocaust, by which we unite ourselves with Christ’s Passion for the sake of His Mystical Body, strengthening ourselves as members of that Body. We become part of it by the Sacrament of Baptism, but in order to remain in it we must be living members, both giving life and causing it to grow, remembering the words of Jesus: “Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away” (Jn 15, 2). By renouncing our own will in order to accomplish God’s, we become shoots of His stock, members of His Body and His servants: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister and mother” (Mk 3, 35). It is by uniting our own will with God’s that we become God’s family.

It is faith that will lead our steps along this path of self-denial, and help us to accept the other renunciations that Jesus Christ requires of us if we are to follow Him in the choice that He has deigned to make of us: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple (...) So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall it saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Lk 14, 26-27; 33-35).

These words of Jesus that I have just quoted do not mean that God requires us to hate and despise our families. This could not be the meaning because, in other places, He orders us to love them. What he requires of those who have consecrated their lives to Him, is that they should sacrifice the joys of living with their families, give up the good things of this life, the right to marry, have children, because those who are married and have children can certainly not either despise them or desert them. Other wise, Our Lord says “They cannot be my disciples”. Now, if they cannot be His disciples, how can they be his priests and teachers of his people? How can they be people entirely dedicated to his love and his service?

One day, St Peter asked Our Lord what would be the reward for those who had left everything in order to follow Him. This was Jesus’ reply: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundred fold and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19, 29). Jesus promises eternal life to those who give up everything for love of Him, including the right to marry and have children. His words show clearly the need for the virtues of poverty and chastity, and specifically for the state of celibacy. One of the people whom the Lord had called to follow Him asked to be allowed to go first and bury his father, but Jesus replied “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk 9, 60).

Another person asked only to be allowed to go home and say good bye to his family, but Jesus advised against it “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Lk 9, 62). A scribe who went to meet Jesus and was ready to follow Him saying: “Teacher I will follow you wherever you go”, received this reply: “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests: but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head”. (Mt 8, 19-20).

These Gospel passages show us the demands that Jesus makes of those who are entirely dedicated to Him. They must leave everything, give up all that is material and earthly, renounce the right to marry and have children in order to follow Christ, dedicating themselves to Him with all their hearts for the salvation of souls.

The requirement of virginity and celibacy does not mean that marriage itself is not good. On the contrary, it is an institution created by God and one which Jesus Christ raised to a sacrament. Nor does it mean that it is less pleasing to God to be married and have children, since these are the fruits of the sacrament and a blessing from God. It only means that, for those who are called and chosen for a life of total consecration to the service of God, the Lord has other requirements and other gifts, because their ultimate destiny is different.

The evangelical counsels which we embrace are the sacrifice which we offer to God, the renunciation of all things, and of ourselves, in order to follow Him with a pure heart, generously and joyfully. And once we have made our offering to God, we cannot turn back. As it says in Sacred Scripture: “When a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do all that proceeds out of his mouth (Num 30, 2-3). And in another place we read: “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin in you. But if you refrain from vowing, it shall be no sin in you.

You shall be careful to perform what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth” (Deut 23, 22-24). Interpreting these orders from the Lord, Qoheleth says “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the works of your hands?” (Eccles 5, 4-6).

We have chosen God as our inheritance, so we cannot turn back, nor exchange Him for any earthly thing, or for ourselves, poor creatures that we are. In such an exchange we would become even poorer, and lose ourselves into the bargain. We are the children of a Father who is God; let us not leave our Father’s house for the poverty stricken hovel of sinners.

We were chosen to follow Christ, Himself a virgin and the Spouse of virgins, humble, obedient, chaste and poor. Christ Himself a virgin and the Spouse of virgins. Christ is a virgin; He chose a virgin for His Mother; and like a pure lily, He is to be found and takes his delight in virgins. That is how the author of the Apocalypse presents Him to us: “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of thunder, the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste. It is these who follow the lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless. (Rev 14, 1-5).- Here the Lamb is Christ, and those who accompany Him everywhere are those virgins.

Virginity is the fruit of the pure love with which people consecrate themselves completely to Christ; they give themselves unreservedly, dedicating themselves wholeheartedly and for ever. It was to them that Christ was referring when He said: “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (Mt 19, 12). Virginity is the secret of love, which is given entirely and solely to God; it is the bond of closest possible union with God; it is that language of pure love which it was not given to everyone to understand, as Jesus “Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given” (Mt 19, 11).

Virginity is the secret of love, the echo of the divine Voice which penetrates the soul with the choice made of it by the Spouse of consecrated virgins: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15, 16). Christ has chosen us so that we may bear fruit more abundantly and that this fruit may remain; He has called us by our name and incorporated us in the retinue of virgins; He has led us to drink from the fountain of living water and fed us with the fruit from the tree of life, in accordance with the Lord’s promise: “To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have his heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. (..) Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one loves and practices falsehood. (Rev 21; 6-7; 22, 14-15).

Jesus Christ has chosen us to follow Him, He who is Himself a virgin, humble, obedient, chaste and poor.

Humility is one of the principle virtues that we need in order to follow Christ faithfully. This is how He presents Himself to us: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt 11, 28-30).”

Humility of heart, the recognition of our own nothingness, of our faults and failings, of our weakness, of our inexperience and incapacity; all these things will keep us in an attitude of absolute confidence in the love and mercy of God. This is what Our Lady tells us in her lovely canticle; “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden (...) he has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree” (Lk 1, 46-48, 52). And Jesus Christ ends the parable illustrating God’s diametrically opposed reaction to the prayer of the Pharisee and that of the publican in the temple by saying “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18, 14.).

And when the two disciples wanted to be given the first place in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord gave them the following lesson in humility: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise their authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and who ever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20, 25-28).

It is with sentiments such as these that our souls become pleasing in the eyes of God and draw down upon us the predilection of his love: “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away”. (Lk 1, 53). We must sing the mercies of the Lord together with the Psalmist: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, who he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their souls fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men! For he satisfies him who is thirsty and the hungry he fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the most High. Their hearts were bowed down with heard labour; they fell down with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men! For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron” (Ps 107 (6) 1-6). This psalm reveals to us how God grants his favour and help to those with contrite and humble hearts.

St. Teresa of Jesus says that to be humble is to live in the truth with God with ones own conscience, and with one’s neighbour; it is to recognize sincerely what we are, and to admit to it without evasion, hypocrisy or pretence, above all before God and our own conscience; not to want to deceive ourselves or our neighbour by pretending to be, or to be worth, something that we are not; not putting ourselves forward, or wanting to occupy the seats of honour, or to be honoured in the worlds eyes, because all these things are false, untrue and deceitful. It was this that led the demons to perdition, and they have deceived and dragged many people after them. Pride is the denial of humility, and the most serious and subtle of all sins.

For this reason Jesus Christ wish to leave us a lesson and example of humility almost at the end of his earthly life. While he was at table with his disciples, he got up, took a towel and a basin of water and washed their feet. Then, when He sat down again at the table, he said to them: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right for so I am. If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (Jn 13, 12-17). What the Divine Master wants to teach us here is not so much the ceremony of washing, or not washing, one another’s feet, but the charity and humility that we must treat one another.

We were chosen to follow Christ obedient to his Father. Every incident in his life is for us an example of obedience.

When he was twelve years old, Jesus went with his parents to the temple of Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When the feast was over, his parents lost him, and it was three whole days before they found Him. Afterwards, St. Luke tells us, Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them” (Lk 2,51). He obeyed those who represented to him the authority of God, his Father. Later he was to say: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6, 38). This kind of obedience required of consecrated souls, who have been chosen, and have acknowledged the fact of having been chosen, by pronouncing before God a vow or an oath promising to follow Him.

There is no justification at all for believing that the modern mentality provides an excuse for dispensing ourselves from the obligation that we took upon ourselves to obey. Obedience should not be looked upon as a yoke or an imposition. Religious obedience rests on a will that is free, the will of the person who pronounced the vow or the oath, and willed thereby to submit him/herself to the will of God. Such obedience is the free expression of a choice: the person chose God as guide and opted to be led by Him. Neither is obedience a diminution. Quite the contrary, it is a value which uplifts those who have not, in themselves, the generosity to achieve this.

There are, however personal rights that the vow does not eliminate and that we are all obliged to respect, including Superiors. The latter can not abuse the authority that God has entrusted to them. If they were to do so, they would be responsible for the disorientation of their subjects and of their failure to make progress. They must not pile on to them more obligations than those envisaged in their rule, especially if such obligations indicate in some way a lack of trust or some form of parasitism, by imposing on others - as Christ says in his Gospel - heavy burdens that they themselves do not carry. They should not use force in order to compel or subjugate their subjects, as if they were prisoners in shoal: this achieves nothing but only causes exasperations. St. Paul perceived this danger and, after urging children among his disciples to obey their parents, he urges the parents not to exasperate their children. “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged” (Col 3, 20-21).

Jesus Christ is our model of obedience as a young labourer, working in his father’s humble workshop in the obscure village of Nazareth, subject to the dictates and requirements of the customers who came to Him with their orders. With all, He behaved humbly, modestly and obligingly towards everyone. He submitted Himself to the burden of toil and to the discomforts of a poor home, in order to do the will of the Father.

Hence He is able to say: “And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him” (Jn 8, 29). We too, ought to able to say to Christ: ‘You are always with me because I always do what pleases you.’ The primary end of our total dedication to the Lord is this: to do God’s will, to do God’s will, to please God, and to live a life of intimate union with God - a union of affection, a union of will, a union of deeds done in faith.

In Jesus Christ we also have the model for the obedience of the apostle. When the time pre-ordained by the Father came, obedient as always to His Father’s will, Jesus left everything and went off in search of souls in order to bring them the word of God and guide them in the paths of salvation.

It was with this end in view that he went to the house of Zacchaeus and that of Simon the Pharisee; that He waited by the well for the Samaritan woman and her fellow citizens, in order to give them the living water of grace, forgiveness of their sins and the light of the light of the knowledge of the Father. With this end in view, too, He never shirked toil, or weariness, or self sacrifice, intensifying his life of prayer and penance. To accomplish the work that the Father had given Him to do was, for Him, as important as the food He ate: “I have food to eat of which you do not know (....) My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (Jn 4, 32, 34). This is also the mission entrusted to consecrated souls: to carry out the will of God in order to accomplish the work that He has entrusted to them, in other words, their own sanctification and the salvation of souls.

Jesus Christ is also our model as victim, sacrificed in obedience to the will of the Father for the redemption of the world.

We see this obedience in the prayer which He addressed to the Father in the Garden of Olives: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but thou wilt” (Mt 26, 39). As in our own case, Jesus’ human nature, too, abhorred the suffering, the humiliation and the death, but He put obedience to His Father’s will before the repugnance of His own nature. “Not as I will, but as You will.”

The prospect of suffering caused Jesus fear and anguish, so much so that He said to His Apostles: “My soul is very sorrowful” (Mk 14, 34), but it did not induce Him to disobey: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done”. (Mt 26, 42). If obedience were not costly, what merit should we have in obeying? It is when it demands a sacrifice of us that we prove our love for God.

The vow of chastity requires of consecrated souls purity of heart and of the affections, thoughts, words and deeds. In this too, Jesus Christ is our model: He was chased, pure and Holy.

He loved God His Father with the pure love of a virginal heart; He loved souls and cleansed them from the stain of sin in his own blood. In the Apocalypse, St. John tells us that he saw in Heaven “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb! (..) Then one of the elders addressed me, saying (...), These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirsty anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd, and he will guide them to living waters; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rv 7, 9-17). Although this multitude can be taken as standing for all those who have been redeemed, in a special way it represents those who have followed Christ as virgins, because it is these who are available, free from entanglements with earthly things, and ready to serve the Lord day and night in his Temple.

St. John then goes on to narrate how he saw an Angel with a turbine in his hand come and stand by the altar of God “he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar (...) and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. (Rev 8, 3-4). I don’t quite know, but I believe this Angel must stand for the priest, pure and chaste, who goes up to the altar and offers to God the prayers, offerings and virtues of the people.

Purity of heart, purity of affection and purity of intention are, as it were, the fruit of chastity and its safeguard. In one of his letters St. Paul writes: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for uncleanness but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess 4, 3-8).

And somewhere else St. Paul tells us: “Every one should remain in the state in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Never mind. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God. (..) The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor 7, 20-24; 32-35).

The primary object of our vow of chastity is this; to be free of earthly cares in order to dedicate ourselves more completely to the service of the Lord, and to love Him and Him alone, more purely, with the purity of our hearts, our affections and our body, so that we may live more fully in intimate union with Christ.

“Do you not know” -again it is the Apostle St Paul speaking to us - “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 Cor 3, 16-23).

By the vow of chastity we are doubly consecrated to God: He is our temple and we are the place where He dwells. St. John tells us this in the Apocalypse: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb (..) its gate shall never be shut by day - and there shall be no night there; they shall bring into it the glory and honour of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or false hood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21, 22-27).

What a wonderful thing this total gift of ourselves to the Lord is! By it our names are inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. As the Lord says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). But already, in this life, pure souls enjoy a special intimacy and knowledge of God, who communicates and manifests Himself to them in Christ: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11, 26-27). And to whom should God reveal Himself if not to pure souls? They are those who have been chosen - in St. Paul’s words -”for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1, 14).

The vow of poverty unites us to Christ who is poor, deprived of the goods of this world so that He could be free to dedicate Himself completely to the work entrusted to Him by the Father. And, as we learn from the words that He addressed to the Father, He succeeded: “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do” (Jn 17, 4) And this is the object of our own vow of poverty: so that, freed from earthly things and the preoccupations they bring with them, we may be able in union with Christ, to accomplish the mission which the Father has entrusted to us.

A rich man went up to Jesus saying: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? And he said to him (...) ‘If you would enter, 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 your 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 to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me’” (Mt 19, 16-21). Those who wish to follow Jesus Christ more closely must not be absorbed in this world’s goods, as these will make them blind, impede the life of the apostolate and prevent their full and exclusive dedication to God.

To those who give up everything in order to follow Him, the lord gives in exchange, in this life the necessities of life, while inviting them to abandon themselves to divine Providence who cares for all; and the life to come; treasure in Heaven.

This is how Jesus Christ urges us to abandon ourselves with complete confidence to the Heavenly Father, who is ever mindful of us: “Therefore I will tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6, 25-33).

But Jesus also urges us to keep our treasures in a safe place - in Heaven: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6, 19-21).

This is the purpose of the vow of poverty: so that our hearts may rest only in God. Then God will take care of us, and anything else we may need will be given to us. I myself can bear wonderful testimony to this truth. I left home at thirteen years of age, without worrying about what I was to wear or eat; I abandoned myself completely to divine Providence in order to follow God’s will and until today, though I have never had any privileges, which God did not want, I never lacked anything I needed.

God’s generosity is manifest in the reply Jesus gave to St. Peter when he asked what would be the reward for those who had left everything in order to follow Him: “Truly I say to you (...) everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name sake, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19, 27-29).

The phrase will receive a hundred fold shows that what Jesus Christ requires of those who have given up the right to own material things for love of Him is not that they should be deprived of the necessities of life; otherwise he would not have promised them the hundred fold.

“You will receive a hundredfold, now in this time” (Mk 10,30). What Jesus Christ asks of us, and what the vow of poverty signifies, is that we should renounce the right to possess things as if they were our own; also that we make use of everything that we need, but look upon it as if it were an alms, and use it as if it were on loan to us. In this way our heart remains free from earthly goods and can aspire to those of Heaven: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5,3).

The mission of consecrated persons is to work and sanctify themselves in union with Christ for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus each consecrated soul is another Christ on earth, another lamb sent by God to take away the sins of the world. The way to accomplish this mission is to give our lives: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12, 24). It is by death that we attain to life and it is by means of the life that we thus attain that we save ourselves from death. It is in this sense that Our Lord goes on to say: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there shall my servants be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honour him” (Jn 12, 27).

It was for this reason that, there on the heavens, close to the Sun which had gone pale in the presence of the Light of God, the Message wished to give us a taste of the glory enjoyed by those who have already reached the Kingdom of God, but who, here on earth, by the example of their lives and the light of their teaching have marked out for us the way to heaven: Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Ave Maria.

The Call to holiness

The nineteenth Call of the message.
One can discern another meaning in the apparition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, namely the call to holiness. In it we see one who, who like ourselves, lived on earth and sanctified herself, but now lives and reigns with God in Heaven, enjoying the fruit and the reward of this sanctification.

Our Lady sanctified herself as a pure and immaculate virgin by corresponding to the graces which God granted to her in that state. She sanctified herself as a faithful and devoted wife by fulfilling all the duties of her state in life. She sanctified herself as a loving mother who dedicated herself to the Son whom God entrusted to her, fondling him in her arms, bringing him up and educating Him, and also helping Him and following Him in the performance of his mission. With Him she traveled the narrow way of life, the rugged road to Calvary: with Him she agonized, receiving in her heart, the wounds of the nails, the piercing of the lance, and the insults of the hostile crowd; finally she sanctified herself as mother, mistress and guide to the Apostles, agreeing to remain on earth for as long as God wished, in order to accomplish the mission which He had entrusted to her as Co- Redemtrix with Christ of all human beings.

Thus Mary is for each one of us, the model of the most perfect holiness to which a human being can aspire in this poor land of exile. How many times will she not have read and meditated in her heart these words of Sacred scripture: “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19,2). What God says to us here is for everyone and for all states in life, as we see from the context in which the phrase appears: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19, 1-2).

This commandment obliges us to observe all the other commandments, because to transgress even one of them is to fall short of holiness.

Everyone is obliged to be holy, even those who have no faith. Obviously in the case of those who have no faith, the holiness will be that dictated by their own conscience, and there will be no supernatural merit because they will not have the fundamental reason that gives value to true holiness: “to be holy because God is holy”, namely the desire to be holy in order to please God, to become like God, to do His will, to give pleasure to God and prove to Him how much we love Him.

As I was saying, those who do not have the happiness of possessing the gift of faith are also bound to become holy by a dictate of human conscience: for the same reason we say that even without knowing God those who fulfill the natural law can be saved, as St. Paul tells us: “When the Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day, when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom 2, 14-16).

For us who have the happiness of possessing the gift of faith, which we receive in the gift of Baptism, the duty to be holy obliges us to something more: to be clothed with supernatural life, to impart a supernatural character to all our actions, in other words to be holy because God is holy. This duty obliges us to live in the shadow of the holiness of God or, to put it another way, by following the path that God has mapped out for us to be holy and to be with Him: “For I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy for I am holy” (Lev 11,44).

God Himself guides our steps along the road to holiness: “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless”. (Gen 17,1 ). To walk in the presence of God is to realize that His gaze is upon us, and that our whole being is, as it were, in front of the mirror of the light of God. Hence, when we realize that God sees us, we will not dare to offend Him. On the contrary, there will be born in us a desire to fulfill His law in order to please Him, to give Him pleasure, to merit His favours and graces, and to sanctify ourselves in order to become like Him. Herein lies true union with God for every one, and it is this that makes us holy.

Consecrated souls are raised to a higher level on account of the holiness of the state of life which they have embraced. By turning their backs on the things of earth, they have placed themselves in a particular state of readiness to correspond with the working of God’s grace in them. By giving themselves to God in love, they offer to Him, once and for all, a holocaust of the whole of themselves. Now this act is of itself capable of raising them to life of constant intimacy with God and of perfect love, provided that such consecrated souls have given themselves completely, without restriction or reservation.

By giving themselves in this way, their encounter with God becomes permanent and familiar. The soul relates with God as with a friend or father who is always available, communicating to him his desires, its aspirations, its ideals and its difficulties. And it is in this intimacy that God gives Himself to such souls and makes them holy. Moreover, such souls are aware of God’s presence within them, experiencing God as their temple and the place where they dwell. Hence, they take refuge there every moment and day of their lives. And even when God’s presence does not make itself felt, they plunge themselves into His immense Being and abandon themselves in His Fatherly arms; by faith they know that He is listening to them and is leading them by the ways He wants them to follow. United to Christ, they offer their sacrifice to God, in accordance with the Apostle’s teaching that I love so much: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb 13, 15-16).

Unfortunately, we have to admit that very few people attain to this degree of intimate union with God. The temptations of the devil penetrate even into the cloister and succeed in diverting some souls from the one sublime aspiration that led them to strip themselves of many things.

Then the tempter comes along and succeeds in blinding them with pathetic ambitions for places and positions of honour, to such an extent that if they do not succeed in getting them, it seems to them the end of the world. So they have to be given the places and positions they seek, in order to reassure them. A poor kind of reassurance, this, when it is derived from the chains of pride, vanity and I don’t know what else, which are the plague of monasteries and religious houses! And the devil deceives very many with such chains! The “Imitation of Christ” had already said this, and St. Teresa of Jesus repeated it, but to what effect? The devil does not give up, because it is where he reaps his harvest!

This is why Jesus Christ says to us that “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20, 27-28). And those who know how to overcome these temptations immerse themselves in the immense Being of God as in an ocean of grace, strength and love; they penetrate the divine secrets with heightened clarity, and understand them even though they cannot understand them fully. God reveals Himself to such souls with a certain delight, and communicates to them knowledge of a part of Himself according to the capacity of each one to attain to the essence of the divine Being.

Thus the soul identifies itself with the holiness of God to the extent to which it gives itself generously, and God takes it to Himself and enriches it with His gifts. It is here that the person is ennobled with the virtue of God, as the Apostle St. Paul tells us: “But as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor 2, 9-12). And Jesus Christ says the same, but with Himself as the Revealer: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11, 26-27).

God communicates Himself and reveals Himself to whomever He pleases, but when He does so such communication requires faithful correspondence on the part of the person who receives it. God’s action does not destroy human nature; rather it perfects and enhances it. It does not deprive people of their natural human, moral and physical reactions because it is through these that they are to sanctify themselves, in imitation of Christ who felt and who suffered for love of the Father. Nor does God’s action make them immune to temptation, whether of pride, from the devil, the flesh or the world, because they are to sanctify in battle in which they will be victories by the help of grace, after the example of Jesus Christ who, in spite of being the Holy of Holies, was also tempted. The harsh trials to which such souls are sometimes subjected may agitate them and even cause them to recoil, because has not made them immune to human weakness; such trials are particularly hard to endure when they are the fruit of injustice, misunderstanding or lack of truth. But those who cause the hurt are the ones who are responsible.

Nevertheless, it is in the midst of all these conflicts that such people - if they persevere in the fight and win through - sanctify themselves and become, for God, a true praise of his glory, as the Apostle says: “To lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. may you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col 1, 10-12).

Whatever favours God may grant to a soul, He will not deprive it of its natural gifts which are given to all human beings: ones own will, freedom, feelings, ones own personality, with the same rights and responsibilities as every one else. God has given these gifts equally to everyone so that by freely using them we can sanctify ourselves and earn an eternal reward. In this way, God respects in us the gifts He has given us, and we too must respect them in others. Thus each one has a responsibility and is answerable to God for his or her own self.

To strip people of any of these gifts is to force them to live as others want them to; it is to commit an injustice and make oneself responsible for the faults or sins that a person who is forced in this way may, for this reason commit. From the point of view of the person who has been thus humiliated, if he or she accepts the situation and endures the suffering with patience and for the love of God, then they sanctify themselves and merit a reward: “For they eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3, 12).

Thus, since we have been chosen by God for holiness, let us endeavor to respond to the call with the best of ourselves, for our own personal growth and for the benefit of all. This is what St. Paul urges us to do: “As in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching, he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12, 6-8).

Thus by the good use that we make of the gifts that God has given us, our holiness develops in the love that we owe to God and to our neighbour; we purify ourselves and become worthy of eternal life, since love is the essence of all true holiness, as the sublime Eagle of the New Testament tells us: “By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5, 2-4).

Can there be anyone who feels like asking: ‘But why must we be saints?’ The Apostle St. Paul gives us the answer in the following most marvelous words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespass, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

“In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to praise of his glory” (Eph 1, 3-14)
Ave Maria!

The Call to follow the road to Heaven

The twentieth Call of the Message
As we have seen, the whole of the Message is a call to follow the road in heaven, to walk in such away as to succeed in attaining to eternal life.

In the times in which we live, there are even those who deny the existence of Heaven, whether because they have no faith, or because they do not want to commit themselves to following the narrow path that leads to Heaven. But they are wrong. That Heaven exists is a revealed truth which cannot be denied.

There are many passages in Sacred Scripture which speak to us of Heaven. The prophet Isaiah, when pleading before God for his people says: “Look down from heaven and see, from the holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion (..) For thou art our Father. (Is 63, 15-16). The same prayer is addressed to God in the Book of Deuteronomy: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people” (Deut 26, 15). And in the New Testament Jesus Christ taught us to pray as follows: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6, 9-10).

After narrating the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordon, St Matthew wrote: “When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him” (Mt 3, 16). Some time after this, John the Baptist, when replying to a question, put to him by his disciples, bore witness to Jesus in the following terms: “No one can receive anything except what is given from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said that I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him (...) He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard” (Jn 3, 27 -32).

When urging us to practice the love that we owe to our enemies, Jesus Christ said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5, 44-45). And He concluded His proclamation of the Beatitudes by saying: “Blessed you are when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5, 11-12).

The Lord tells us that we should be blessed if we are persecuted on his account, because the prophets before us were persecuted in a similar way. But why is that those whom God has chosen for a special mission, and with whom He has more direct contact, are persecuted and oppressed? It is the continuation of the mystery of the Cross which marks out for us the path to Heaven.

From the text just cited, it is clear that the existence of Heaven is a truth and cannot be denied. Some people deny it because they say, one does not know where it is, nor has anyone ever seen it, ect.

But many things exist we have not yet seen, but doubt that they exist because someone who really knows has told us about them. We know for example that there is a sea of fire at the heart of the earth; here and there, in various parts of the globe, there are volcanoes to be seen with the lava that pours fourth from them, but we do not see the fire itself which produces them. Nevertheless we know that it exists. And the one who created this fire and keeps it going is the same Lord who created the fire of Hell and will keep it going too, for all eternity.

We also know that, out in space, there are many planets which we have not yet seen, many stars whose light has not yet reached us. No one has yet succeeded in measuring the firmament. Now, God who created this unlimited space, can also have created a place, a stopping place to which He has given the name Heaven, destined to be the dwelling place of God and His Elect for ever and ever. It is said that Heaven consists in the possession of God: there is no doubt that that God is the well spring of all happiness, and that when we possess God we shall be eternally happy.

When describing the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven, St. Luke says: “Then he led them out (his disciples) as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.” (Lk 24, 50-51). And St. Mark describes this same event as follows: “After he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mk 16, 19).

We could continue to quote many other passages from Sacred Scripture which assures us of the existence of Heaven, but we will not do so in order not to make this humble document excessively long. Let what has already been said be sufficient for those who are prepared to believe without on insisting on actually seeing everything! Not that it is a bad thing to be able to see, quite the opposite, since the more we see the better we understand how much more we have yet to learn in order to know the immensity of the work created by God. While maintaining due proportions, one could apply here, in relation to the difficulty in knowing the things of earth and heaven, the phrase that Jesus Christ used when explaining to Nicodemus the need for faith in order to understand them: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (Jn 3, 12).

Wishing to confirm this truth for us, the Message, too, came too to recall to our minds, and to speak to us about Heaven.

When the little shepherd children asked the beautiful Lady where she was from, she replied: “I am from heaven”. When they heard that she was a Lady who had come from Heaven, they remembered about a friend of theirs who had died a short time before and who people said had gone to Heaven, so they asked about her. The Lady replied: “She is in Heaven”.

In the prayer that the Lady taught them to say at the end of each decade of the Rosary, we ask God “to bring all souls to Heaven”.

And when the children asked if they too, would go to Heaven, the Lady replied that they would. Hence it is certain that Heaven exists. Heaven does exist!

The great concern of God and of Our Lady is that people should be saved and go to Heaven; and since Heaven is the dwelling place prepared by God for eternal life, unless we follow the road that leads to it, we shall never get there. As far as we know, there are already two people there in soul and in body: Jesus Christ and Mary most holy, his Mother and ours; and there too go all the souls which have the good fortune to leave this world in the state of grace, that is without mortal sin.

On the day of the resurrection of the dead, all souls will be reunited with their bodies so that they can together share in the eternal happiness or the eternal damnation that they have deserved during the time of their pilgrimage on earth. Jesus Christ Himself has told us this, He who will then be our Judge: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is 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 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (jn 5, 26-29).

If God had created us merely in order to live out, on this earth, the few days we spend here in the midst of toil, suffering and affliction that all of us one way or another have got to endure, then we could say that our life had no meaning, since it was destined to end in the dust of the earth from which we were made. But God, in His goodness, must have had greater purposes in mind, and His Love could not be content with this. We are the masterpiece of His Love, since He created us to share in the immensity of His Life.

From the moment of our conception, our life continues through time and goes on to eternity, where it will abide. As long as we live on this earth we are pilgrims on the way to heaven, if we keep to the way that God has marked out for us. This is the most important thing in our lives: that we should behave in such away as to ensure that, when we depart from this world and at the end of time, we shall deserve to hear from the lips of Jesus Christ those consoling words: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”(Mt 25, 34).

It is for this reason that the Message speaks to us of Heaven and urges us to keep to the way that will lead us there.
Ave Maria!

The Ten Commandments

Knowledge of God
We have seen that God created us to love and serve Him here on earth, and then to see and enjoy Him forever in Heaven. The Message of Fatima reminds us that we must follow the road to Heaven. And it is observance of the Commandments that will lead us to eternal life. This is what Jesus Christ told the young man who asked Him: “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life? And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is 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 bear false witness, Honour your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (Mt 19, 16-19). Therefore, the way to Heaven is this: keep the Commandments.

Since, unfortunately, the great majority of people neither know nor understand the Commandments, it will be useful to many people to recall them here, so that we may all understand what we must do in order to obtain eternal life.

It may possibly occur to someone to ask me: What have the Ten Commandments got to do with the Message of Fatima? I answer that they have a great deal to do with it; they are among the chief aims of the Message. In fact, Our Lady ended the series of apparitions in Fatima with these words: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended”. And previously, on the 13th July, she had already said “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want”. Thus, what Our Lady wanted and, therefore the main object of the Message, was to beg us not to offend Our Lord because He was already so deeply offended.

There can be no doubt that what offends God most is the breaking of His Law: all Sacred Scripture confirms this. All the Prophets protested against the breaking of God’s Law; and in the same way, Jesus Christ condemns it also, as does the Church, which continues to speak in His name in our own day.

In order to keep God’s commandments, we have to know Him. Who then is God?

The Book of Deuteronomy tells us how Moses on the threshold of the Promised land, called around him the twelve tribes of Israel in order to remind them of how God had led them from the time they left Egypt, until they had arrived to where they now were, at the River Jordon. This is how Moses recalls God’s great gift to his people, the Decalogue: “The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, which I stood between the Lord and you at the time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go into the mountain. He said: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.” (Dt 5, 4-6).

God showed Himself to His people on Mount Sinai, so that they would acknowledge Him as the one true God. We were there, represented by the Israelites; to us also God makes Himself known and addresses his word.

All the Israelites saw the fire on the mountains and all understood that it was supernatural fire, since it neither burned nor consumed. In this fire, in some way, they saw God and they were terrified, as they themselves confessed, finally asking Moses to be their mediator: 2Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire; we have this day seen God speak with man and man still live. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out in the midst of fire, as we have, and has still lived? Go near, and hear all that the Lord our God will say; and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you; and we will hear and do it” (Dt 5, 24-27).

All this makes me think! While Moses is going peacefully up the mountain to draw near to God and talk to Him intimately, the people are terrified and are afraid they are going to die. Would that not be because, by the sin of idolatry, they have lost the strength of grace and can no longer, like Moses, see God and hear His voice? The fear which they felt was certainly not caused by the presence of God but came rather from their reproach of their own conscience, because that is what accuses us before God and condemns us. As for me, how much I would give to be absorbed in that divine flame!

In this passage from Sacred Scripture, I seem to see in Moses the figure of pure souls who are continually moving up towards God, climbing the mountain of holiness, while those who live sunk in a life of sin are descending all the time, burying themselves in a swamp of vice and moving further and further away from God. They cease to love Him, because sin extinguishes the flame of love in them; they no longer trust, because sin confuses their minds and they cannot see the mercy of God; they lose their faith, because passion blinds them and prevents them from seeing the light of God.

In Moses, I see an image of the person who corresponds to God’s call. Nothing frightens him because his conscience is at peace, he believes in God, keeps his commandments and runs to meet Him. He knows that his Creator is the one true God, the Source of all that exits; therefore, he trusts in his power, his goodness, hid wisdom, and his love.

God showed Himself to the Israelites in order to assure them of the reality of His existence and thus to make it possible for them to pass on the certainty of that truth. We too, belong, spiritually, to that same people. made one with Christ in Baptism, we became part of the people of God. We were chosen by God to become members of the mystical Body of Christ, which is His Church. And it is this Church which, all over the world, forms the people of God, as we see from the command it received from Christ: “Go into 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). Thus it is necessary to believe in God, and to be baptized, in order to be saved, to belong to the People of God and to be counted among his chosen ones.

Terrified not only by the fire which God caused on the mountain, which itself trembled, but also by the voice of thunder with which God spoke to them, the Israelites begged Moses to be their intermediary with God. When Moses returned from God’s presence, he told them the laws which God had given him, and, then, said to them: “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tablets of stone, and gave them to me. And when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; and you said (...) ‘Go near, and hear all that the Lord our God will say; and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you; and we will listen and obey.

And the Lord heard your words, when you spoke to me; and the Lord said to me ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you; they have rightly said all that they have spoken. 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 ...)’. You shall be careful to do therefore as the Lord your Go has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left”. (Dt 5, 22-24. 27-29. 32).

It is Moses who transmits God’s message to his people. Could it be that no one else is capable of speaking directly to God? It is God who chooses each one of us and endows each of us with the capacity and the necessary gifts for the accomplishment of the mission, which He entrusts to us. The fear to which God refers -”of such a mind to fear me” - is the love, which should lead us not to want to offend Him, in order not to lose His friendship and grace.

In Moses, we see represented the Head of the Church, commissioned by Jesus Christ with the task of passing onto us the laws and words of God. Therefore, we have to believe in God and in his Church, just as the Israelites believed and said to Moses: “Go near, and hear all that the Lord Our God will say; and speak to us all that our Lord our God will speak to you; and we will listen and obey” (Dt 5, 27). This should be our response too; to listen to the Church, and believe what it says - certain that what it tells us is the word of God - and obey. “We will listen and obey”.

Just as God said to Moses “Arise, go on your journey at the head of the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Dt 10, 11), so also He says to His Church: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19). Thus, the Church is the messenger of God to direct His people in the ways which He Himself has traced out for them by means of the laws and the doctrine which He has confided to it. And just as the Israelites believed and followed the direction of Moses because he was the messenger of God, so we must follow the guidance of the Church because she is, for us the messenger of God.

And let us not waver or move away from the Church when we see imperfections in some of her members, because, individually, we are all weak and sinful. But the Church does not cease to be holy for all that; holy in her laws and in the doctrine entrusted to her by God, holy in her Head, Jesus Christ, her divine founder and Saviour, holy in the divine Spirit which animates and helps her, and in the life of grace generated and nourished by the Sacraments.

In Moses, God found imperfections also, as a punishment He did not grant him the grace of entering the Promised Land with his people. But, in spite of that, he was still the man chosen by God as leader of His people.

Moses doubted when he struck the rock in the desert, as God had commanded, so that water would gush forth from it. Because of this the Lord said to him, and to Aaron: “Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Num 20, 12). This passage of Sacred Scripture shows how God wants us to believe not only in His existence from all eternity, but also in the efficacy of his word. Moses carried out the command that God had given him; he struck the rock as God had ordered him to do, but with a certain lack of faith and confidence. He was afraid that God would not work the promised miracle.

As a punishment, he was not to enter the Promised Land, but only glimpsed it from afar, as the sacred text tells us: “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land. Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, all the land of Ephraim and Manas-seh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the plain, that is, the valley of Jericho and the city of palm trees, as far as Zohar. And the Lord said to him ‘This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not go over there. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the Land of Moab according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor” (Dt 34, 1-6).

All this shows how firm our conviction should be and the extent of our faith in God: we have to believe in the immense power of His operative word, in the eternal wisdom of his Being, which is the very source of life, in His laws which trace out the way we should go, in His creative and redemptive work, in what His Word, his Son Jesus says and in the truths which He taught us in His Church which is the treasure-house of the truths entrusted to Her by the Eternal Word, in his mercy, in his forgiveness and in his love.

The beginning of the whole spiritual life is belief in God. This faith opens up to us the marvels of infinite Being, leads us to find God in his works, to live the life of God present within us. We ourselves are poor and have nothing; but in God we possess everything and lack for nothing.

The person who believes in God is happy, because he knows he has a Father from whom all things come, yet is above all human paternity. He loves his Father, rests in His arms and lives for this Father who is goodness, mercy, forgiveness and love! One thing only He asks: “Fidelity in the observance of His law” God gave this advice to his people through Moses: “The Lord said to me (...) ‘Go and say to them, ‘Return to your tents’. But you stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandments and the statutes and the ordinances, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess. You shall be careful to do therefore as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that it may go well with you”’ (Dt 5, 28, 30-33).

The fact that God is invisible does not justify the incredulity of those who do not want to believe in His existence. God created, for the good of humanity, many invisible forces, whose existence nobody doubts. Who for instance has seen the wind? We hear it, we feel it when it blows upon us, and we see its effects when it shakes the trees and tosses the sea. The same is true of oxygen, hydrogen, electricity ect. There are other invisible elements which are used for the benefit of humanity. Well then! Before all this existed, God, who created it and formed it from nothing, was already present. And it was to these invisible forces that God gave most power: electric energy, different sounds, ect.

God manifests Himself also in the preservation of created beings. We see that the achievements of men are realized by using materials created by God: and, with time and use, these wear out, deteriorate and disappear. How different is the destiny of the works which originate solely from the hand of God! Consider the sun: it has always the same strength, the same degree of heat, the same brilliance, follows always the same course laid out for it by God! The same is true of the moon, the stars, the planets, the earth, the seas and all that exits and was created by God! It all remains the same because that is what God wishes, since that depends on His omnipotent will. And they are here, before our eyes, indisputable witnesses to the power, the wisdom, the will and the eternal existence of God.

We have no difficulty in believing that such and such famous men, lived, because history mentions them. But it also speaks of the existence of God, his deeds, and his works. Why, then, do we not believe? Is sacred history less worthy of belief than profane history? Are the sacred writers less truthful than profane ones? Now, the sacred writers tell us; “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1,1).

“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 that was made” (Jn 1, 1-3).

“Worthy art thou, our Lord and God to receive glory and honour and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created” (Rev 4,11).
Ave Maria!

You shall adore the true God and Him alone

“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 is on earth beneath, or that 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” (Dt 5m 7-9).

Already in the second Call of the Message, we spoke of the adoration which we give to God. We will now look at the reasons why God commands us to adore Him only. Does God need our adoration? Certainly not! God is infinitely happy in Himself. He does not need any one or anything! He already has in Himself all that is good, and all that exists belongs to Him, since He created it. He can freely dispose of everything without any possible opposition. Why, then, does He require us to adore Him only?

The reason for giving us such a command is that He is the one living and true God, eternal and worthy of being adored; He is the only God capable of accepting our adoration and rewarding it.

This commandment is an order inspired by love. God commanded us to adore Him only, so that we may not turn to adoring false gods-gods which in reality are nothing, of no value and can do nothing for us.

I call it also the precept of love, since our adoration should be the result of our love of God, and of our gratitude, because He loved us first; He loved us with an everlasting love and it was because of that love that He created us, surrounded us with so many benefits in the order of nature and in the order of grace, and destined us for eternal life where we will share in all his gifts.

The observance of this commandment brings us close to God; through it we will find mercy forgiveness and grace.

Sacred Scripture tells us that, when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive from God the laws that were to govern His people, they, who meanwhile had remained at the foot of the mountain, made a golden calf and began to adore it. Seeing this, God complained to Moses, saying: “Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt’ (...)

And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God graven upon the tables (..) And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it” (Ex 32, 7-8. 19-20).

“On the morrow Moses said to the people ‘You have sinned a great sin (..) And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin’. So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people have sinned a great sin (...) But now if thou wilt forgive their sin -and if not- blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written’. But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you”’ (Ex 32, 30-34).

Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, thou sayest to me, bring up this people; but thou has not let me know whom thou wilt send with me (...)’ The Lord said ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’. Moses said ‘If thy presence will not go with me, do not carry us up from here (..). I pray thee show me thy glory’. And he said ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name The Lord and I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’” (Ex 33, 12-16; 18-19).

“And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord (..) And Moses made haste to bow his head toward the earth and worshipped. And he said, ‘If now I have found 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 us for thy inheritance’” (Ex 34, 5; 8-9).

These events show us how Moses with the love he had for God and his neighbour, with his humble prayer and adoration, obtained pardon for the people, reconciling them with God from whom they had turned away by the sin of idolatry.

By divine choice, we are the successors of this people of God, as Jesus Christ shows us in the parable of the Good Shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (..) And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Jn 10, 11-16).

I have no doubt that these sheep which the divine Saviour came to gather and lead to his sheepfold are all the people who have heard His voice and follow Him. Therefore, I believe we must consider as addressed to us the words spoken by Moses to the Israelites: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it; yet the Lord set his heart in love upon your fathers and chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as to this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe (...) You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve him and cleave to him” (Dt 10, 14-17;20).

As Moses tells us here, we hold fast to God. Him only we serve and love, because adoration is the result of love which believes, hopes, trusts and loves, giving itself in complete surrender to the loved One, who is God

“Lord, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You”
Ave Maria!

You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Dt 5,11).

This commandment obliges us to live in truth with God, with our neighbour and with ourselves. God abhors lies, because God is truth. In the Gospel of St. John we read “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father” (Jn 1, 14). And in another place in the same Gospel, Jesus Christ says of Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes tot he Father, but by me” (Jn 14, 6). If, as Jesus says, we cannot go to the Father, except by Him, and He is the Truth, this shows that we cannot go to God except by the way of truth.

We cannot deceive God, because He sees right into everything, just like crystalline water which flows out of the clearest spring. God always has before Him our works, our intentions, and our desires.

We speak truth to God when we are faithful to our promises, our vows, and our oaths. In Sacred Scripture we read: “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin in you. But if you refrain from vowing, it shall be no sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.” (Dt 23, 21-23).

However, when we do not keep our promises, we lie to God. Our vows, our oaths and our promises have invoked God in vain. Besides as the sacred text says, nobody obliged us to promise; we made this offering to God of our own free will. Hence, once it is made, we are obliged to keep it.

In the same way, we cannot deceive our neighbour, and still less call on God to witness our false, deceitful and guileful statements. God takes as done to Himself the good or evil done to our neighbour. Jesus Christ teaches us this in the Gospel: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25, 40). And God takes it into account in order to punish or reward. This is what we see in the scene of the Last Judgment: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from the other as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you came to me’. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them. ‘Truly, I say to you as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left ‘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’. Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘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, 31-46).

Here God reveals Himself as a father who considers as done to himself whatever good or evil is done to his children. If God speaks to us like this about the good which we have neglected to do to others, what will He say to us about the evil we have caused them? What will He say to us if, through craft, trickery or cunning, we have deceived our neighbour? And we do this when ever we take advantage of someone’s ingenuousness or the confidence that he or she had in us, and then we excuse ourselves, saying; “If they hadn’t been so stupid, if they hadn’t let themselves be deceived!” But, what will God’s answer be to all lies of this kind, of which unfortunately, the world is full?

Any deceit, any hypocrisy, any pretence is a lie. Its gravity is measured by the degree of harm done to the glory of God or the good of others. We see, in the Gospel, how God condemns this sin “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe a mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (...) Fill up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Mt 23: 23, 32-33).

Jesus rebuked the doctors of the law saying “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourself do not touch the burden with one of your fingers” (Lk 11, 46). And He was to conclude this discourse with the following recommendation to His disciples: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be made known (...) Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more they can do. But I will warn you who to fear; fear him who after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Lk 12, 1-5).

The language on the part of Jesus Christ may strike us as harsh, but its severity is directed against such behavior on our part towards others. For his part, God is simply the Father defending His children and the Judge who, to an equal degree, rewards good and punishes evil.

If we look at the world, considering how people lived in the time of Jesus and unfortunately, how they live today, the pictures we see is frightening! And yet, it is reality in so far as it refers to the word of God and what it tells us about human life. Taking advantage of other people’s ignorance, their weakness, their need, their confidence, all this is lying, a sin against justice, against the law of charity and against the truth. Thinking about these abuses, the Lord says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (....)Every tree that does not ear good fruit is cut down and thrown in to the fire” (Mt 7, 15, 19).

Often we lie to ourselves, and thus deceive ourselves. Carried away by blind passion, we promise ourselves happiness where it is not to be found.

God created us free, able to think, desire and decide. We are beings who think and know, as far as the power of understanding in our own intelligence allows us. It is in virtue of our own power of thought and our own intelligence that we are responsible for everything we do of our own free will.

We deceive ourselves when we exchange good for evil inclinations, without thinking of the grave consequences which ensue. Jesus Christ, speaking to the Jews said: “Truly, truly I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. (..) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8, 34. 44). The devil, prompted by pride caused his own downfall and that of those he dragged after him; he deceived himself and deceived those who followed him. Wanting to raise himself above God, he fell into the depths of the abyss; wanting to climb higher, he sank even lower!

The same thing happens to us, if we let ourselves be carried away by the temptations of the devil, the world and the flesh. This is how the sacred text describes one of the temptations prepared by the devil for Jesus Christ: “Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the primacy of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God throw yourself down; for it is written. ‘He will give his angels charge of you and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot on a stone’. Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Mt 4, 5-7). It is to the temptation of pride, which often seduces us, and we do not know how to resist it as Christ did. Throw yourself down and you will come to no harm! The Angels will come and bear you up on their hands; you will not be injured by the stones on which you fall. And you will be a spectacle tot he world which will stand and admire you.

The temptation to pride is a lie! Throw yourself over the precipice of vice, no harm will come to you! God down! Why do we not rather set ourselves to climb upwards instead of descending? Mount, climb higher! Be pure, chaste, just, be faithful to God and to your neighbour, be retrained in your conduct. Go higher and god will embrace you in his fatherly arms. Why does temptation not urge us to go upwards instead of going down? Because to go up is truth, and to go down is falsehood; and, like the devil, vice, passion and the world are false, they cannot give us true advice. Thus very often we allow ourselves to be deceived, and it is only when we find ourselves lost that we realize the fact.

In order to overcome the temptations which surround us, we have to struggle against falsehood because that is what all temptations are. In the Book of Revelations, St. John describes the struggle between the good Angels who remained faithful to God and the bad Angles who rebelled. “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and satan, the deceiver of the whole world- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev 12, 7-9). See what Sacred Scripture calls the devil, the deceiver of the whole world.

Temptation is always seductive, whether it comes from ourselves, from the world, or from the devil; it is always deceitful; it promises us what it cannot give.

True happiness is found only in God, the further we draw away from God, the more we sink down, and the more unhappy we become; the nearer we draw towards God, the happier we are and the greater we become as persons, because only in God are truth, justice, true love and greatness to be found. Therefore, God forbids us to take his name in vain.
Ave Maria!

Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath Day

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your man-servants or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Ex 20, 9-11).

The sacred text tells us that God prescribed rest on the seventh day of the week so that it would be a holy day, consecrated to the Lord in memory of, and in thanksgiving for, the week of creation. We know that in the Old Testament the day of the week reserved for rest and consecrated to the Lord was a Saturday. The Church, authorized by God - “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 16,19) -substituted Sunday for Saturday, in order to commemorate, along with the work of creation, the work of redemption brought about by Christ, our Saviour, who rose from the dead on a Sunday.

Now that we understand this much, let us fix our attention on the words which God uses when laying down this commandment: “Six day you may labor (...) But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God” (Ex 20, 9). Thus, Sunday is not only a day of physical rest with abstention from servile work, but it is also, and above all, a day to be consecrated to the Lord, a day of prayer in which we encounter God, to thank Him for all His benefits to us, to sing praises, to remember his infinite gifts in which He has made us sharers, and to ask His help in all our needs.

In order to fulfill all these duties to God, the Church has commanded us to hear an entire Mass on Sundays and Holy days. And we must not limit ourselves to simply being present at Mass; we must take part in it. Indeed, it is not only the priest who celebrates Mass; he presides, and consecrates, in the name of Christ, but all the faithful gathered around the altar, live and celebrate the one Sacrifice of Christ. Hence, we must be prepared, so that, giving the responses, praying with the priest, we may, with the priest, draw near to the altar to receive Holy Communion, the Body of Jesus Christ.

I say that it is important to be prepared, because in order to receive the Body of Christ, it is necessary that our conscience does not accuse us of grave sin. If we are in a state of grave sin, we must first receive absolution in the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession, before receiving Holy Communion.

The celebration of the Eucharist is not a mere ceremony at which we are present; it is a real event in which we meet the living God, in the Person of His Son, the renewal of whose passion, death and resurrection we celebrate, and we receive His Body and Blood, as He Himself has told us: “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22, 19) and “I am with you always to the close of the ages” (Mt 28,20).

In reference to the consecrated bread and wine, the Lord says to us: “This is my body” Hence if the Lord says “this is” then it is, and does not cease to be, because the word of God effects what it signifies. By virtue of this word, under the species of the consecrated bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are present, for as long as the species remain. By virtue of the word of God, the phenomenon of transubstantiation has taken place. Here our faith must be firm, because it is nourished and enlightened by the word of God, which for us is light and life. We are not walking in darkness, we know where we are going, we follow the road which God has marked out for us, we follow Him who said: “I am the way the truth and the life” (Jn 14, 6). We follow Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Word of the Father.

In this way, if our observance of Sunday is limited to merely abstaining from work we cannot say with an easy conscience, that we are keeping God’s commandment since we have respected the part of it that refers to rest, but failed to observe the part that bids us to consecrate the day to the Lord. God did not make us material beings, there is also a part of us which is spiritual, which makes us like God, we can think, know, chose freely and decide; we are the result of God’s thought, created by His Will. Therefore our physical and corporal rest has to be accompanied and sanctified by the spiritual element in us.

Still less will this commandment be observed by those who use this day only for distractions, pastimes and amusements, especially such as are sinful. In that case, the day, which should be consecrated to the Lord, becomes a day of sin which offends God and corrupts souls. In this respect Sacred Scripture tells us: “Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it, that souls shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (Ex 31, 14-15).

As we see, the text insists on this day of rest being consecrated to the Lord. And this commandment demands that at least part of the day should be spent in an encounter with God; an encounter where we communicate directly and consciously with the Lord, by means of prayer, individually and with others, assisting at Mass, hearing the word of God which, by the ministry of priests, is addressed to us in the general assembly of the faithful. It was to them that the Lord confided the mission of preaching his word to us and guiding us in the way of salvation.

If we should happen to see some priests who seem to have lost their way and have gone astray, let us not be surprised! They, too, are human, subject to frailty like ourselves. In the course of time, we meet many who have lost their way and been unfaithful to God and to the mission entrusted to them by the Lord. This is a fact about which God Himself complains and which He deplores thus: “And now O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to your hearts to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; indeed I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.

Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung upon your faces; the dung of your offerings, and I will put you out of my presence. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the Lord of the hosts. My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him, that he might fear; and he feared me, he stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (ML 2, 1-7).

God shows us here the figure of a priest who was unfaithful, and that of another who was faithful to the Lord and the mission entrusted to him. The fact that some priests fall away, must not mean that our respect, our esteem and our veneration for those who persevere should be any less; rather the weakness of some should heighten the merit of the rest. Therefore, we should always listen with faith to the priest, because he is a light for our path, a guide for our life and a source of strength for our weakness.

Christ is the true eternal Priest of the New Covenant, and all of us who remain united to Him, share in His Priesthood; each of us in the sphere where we have been placed by God. All of us, united in the same faith, the same hope and the same charity; together constitute the People of God, described by Sacred Scripture as a priestly people. St. Peter, in his first letter, says to us: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into the marvelous light.

Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 3, 9-10). “And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 P 2, 5). It was in Baptism that we receive this priestly dignity, in virtue of which we can offer spiritual sacrifices; all the good works of a Christian, making known the wonders of God, all the prayers of supplication and thanksgiving offered by ourselves and our neighbours, the witness of a holy life, self sacrifice and the gift of ourselves in the service of others.

We must realize that we have been made sharers of the priesthood of Christ in order to co-operate in His work of Redemption. The realization of this will help us to observe worthily the precept concerning Sunday as an obligation, by the study of the laws and truth of God, so that, in our daily lives, we may know how they apply in each case, how to live them ourselves and transmit them to those around us, above all to those entrusted by Heaven to our responsibility.

If, on the contrary, we spend Sunday solely in physical rest and distractions, can we say that we are fulfilling our priestly mission in respect of those whom the Lord has confided to our care? Will not we have failed to give the good example which we should give to those who see us? We must not forget that the apostolate of good example is superior to that of the word, unless this latter is translated coherently into action in our practical life. The Portuguese have a saying, which is very true: “Words move us, but example induces us” In other words, our lives must be in harmony with our words.

All of us to a greater or lesser extent, in whatever situation we are placed, have a responsibility for the good of others, and the salvation of their souls. By our attitude towards them, by our words, our actions and the prayers we should say for them, by our words, our actions, and the prayers we should say for them, either in private or in public, with them and for them, we have to help one another to keep on the right road: the road of faith in Christ, the road of hope and love which unites us all in Christ, Head and Leader of His people, the Church. If we do not do this, how do we in fact consecrate our Sunday to the Lord?

In his Gospel, St. John tells us that, when many of those who had followed Christ heard Him proclaiming the mystery of the Eucharist, they refused to believe, were scandalized and left the Lord. Then Jesus, seeing this said to them: “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe’ For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Will you also go away?’ Simon Peter answered him ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’. Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve was to betray him” (Jn 6, 61-71).

This Gospel passage shows us how, from the very beginning, in God’s Church there were those who did not believe, were unfaithful or deserted altogether. They left God to succumb to temptations to pride, avarice, sins of the flesh, the devil and the world. They take no notice of what the Lord said: “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail”. Of what use is the flesh when the spirit leaves it? Let us go into a cemetery and look at the graves: they will give us the answer!

But this answer is still incomplete. A day will come when these bodies, by then reduced to ashes, must rise to eternal life and, united once more to the souls which animated them in life, will go to share in the same destiny ordained for the soul after death, merited by each one according to his or her works. This why Jesus Christ tells us that the flesh is of no use because it is the Spirit which gives life. And the words that He spoke are indeed “spirit and life” at any rate for those who believe and follow them. St. Peter answered: “To whom shall we go, Lord, You have the words of eternal life?”

Like the Apostle, we must believe in Christ and remain united to Him, in the person of the Successor of St. Peter, the Pope and Bishop of Rome, and say, with him: “We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ, the Son of the living God who came into the world to save us; and that You only have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6, 69). And when we see that others are falling away, we should stand all the more firmly in our faith, united to Christ, in the person of his representative, the Pope, the one true Head of the one true Church of God, founded by Jesus Christ. He is still present and will be with us until the end of time: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20).

This is the door of salvation which God has opened for us, and the way by which we will go to Him: Christ and his Church. We are members of Christ’s Church, we are part of the Assembly of Christ. And Sunday is the day appointed by God for all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ who form His Church to gather together in assembly.
Ave Maria!

Honour your Father and your Mother

“Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you” (Deut 5: 16).

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds his disciples of this commandment given by God for all human beings: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and your mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise) ‘that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth’” (Eph 6, 1-3). We must observe this law, which requires us to honour our father and our mother, not only in order to be happy on earth, but above all to avoid eternal punishment, since to fail to observe this commandment is to sin against justice and charity, and thus to fall into grave sin, which can result in eternal damnation. “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death” (Ex 21, 17).

The severity which God enjoins on us the observance of this commandment shows the gravity of any infringement of it. In a liturgical celebration of the Law of God - for which Moses convoked the whole people of God who took part in it by declaring their individual acceptance of each statement of the Levites - the maledictions which the latter had to proclaim against those who transgressed the divine laws, including the following: “Cursed be he who dishonors his father and his mother’ and all the people shall say ‘Amen”’ (Deut 27, 16). And the Book of Sirach reminds us of the commandment, stressing the debt of gratitude we owe to our parents “With all your heart honour your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; and what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?” (Sir 7, 27-28).

And Jesus Christ confirming this commandment and emphasizing how very pleasing faithful observance of it is to God, who has no patience with any of the many pretexts we invent for evading it, censures the Pharisees in these sermons: “Honour your father and your mother’ and he who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’ . But you say, ‘If anyone 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, 8-9).

Here is the commandment of God, as spelt out in a memorable page by the author of the Book of Sirach: “Listen to me your father, O children, and act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety. For the Lord honoured the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honours his father atones for his sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honours his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother; he will serve his parents as his masters. Honour your father by word and deed, that a blessing from him may come upon you.

For a father’s blessing strengthens the house of children, but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations. Do not glorify yourself by dishonouring your father, for your father’s dishonour is no glory to you. For a mans glory comes from honouring his father, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother. O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you; in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favour; as frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away. Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord” (Sir 3, 1-16).

All these sayings are the voice of God, which tells us how we should behave towards our parents.

But the observance of this commandment goes further than this, and extends to all God-given authority. Thus, St Paul, having said that children should obey and respect their parents, exhorts subjects to obey their superiors: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (..) Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. whatever your task work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward, you are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3, 20-24). These words are a call to faith inviting us to serve our superiors, seeing God in them and hoping that He will reward us with his inheritance.

So, we must look upon our superiors as parents, loving them, serving them, honouring them as sent by God to us so that, as servants of God - because their mission to us is a service - they may help us, guide our steps, and lead us on the right road through life.

And let us remember that we are all of us sent by God, each of us in our own particular place: children are sent by God to their parents, to be brought up, educated and started off on the road to life; teachers are sent by God to instruct their pupils; pupils are sent by God to their teachers to be taught the arts, the natural and supernatural sciences. In this way everything is service, whether in the case of parents, teachers, children, pupils or employees. It is all service in the Lord’s name.

Contractors and employers serve their employees, giving them work, paying their salaries, providing them with a steady and honorable livelihood. In this way, we are all servants of God, serving Him in the person of our neighbours.

This doctrine is confirmed by the words of Jesus Christ: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who receives anyone whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Jn 13,20). And, speaking to his disciples after the mother of the sons of Zebedee had asked Him to allow them to occupy the seats of honour in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord said to them: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you should be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for a ransom for many” (Mt 20, 20-25).

Moreover, since we are Christians, followers of Christ, we must all become servants of our brothers and our sisters; we must serve them with love, with respect for the personality and the dignity of our neighbour, because the dignity of each one does not come from the place he or she occupies but rather from each person’s right to that respect. In one case, it is a father’s right, in another a son’s; in one it is the right of a teacher, in another that of a pupil.

It is true that some people are in charge and give orders, and others have to carry them out; but we are all of us beings created by God, in his image and likeness, destined for eternal life when we shall share in the life of God. Therefore, God created us intelligent beings who can think and know, capable of discovering God. He made us living beings, able to discern good and evil and decide for one or the other and, on the basis of this choice, merit either eternal reward or eternal punishment.

We have all come from the mind of God. And, thanks solely to the divine goodness, our intelligence is capable of reaching this creative thought, in the measure in which God wills to transmit it. Hence, we must use this intelligence to know God, the marvels of his creative work which are the object of human science and the divine mysteries which he has revealed to us. Above all, by availing of all this knowledge which God has conveyed to us in so many ways and, last of all by means of His own Son, we must seek to love Him and serve Him in the person of our brothers and sisters who, like us and with us, are children of the same Father in Heaven.

It was under this aspect of service that Jesus Christ founded his Church: to bring the founts of salvation to the whole human race! All the members of the Church must consider themselves servants of God, working in the interest of this saving plan, like Christ who came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20. 28); for the benefit for the members of his mystical body, He set up the holy Hierarchy, to whom He entrusted the mission which He had received from His Father: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20, 21).

This is why the Pope, the true and universal representative of Christ, Leader and visible Head of His Church, signs himself: “Servant of the Servants of God”.

In this way, the commandment which orders us to honour our father and mother embraces all authority, which, as in the case of our parents, represent God for us and was established by Him.

Thus, the Church was instituted by Christ, to serve God and the People of God. We should, therefore, respect it, love it and follow everything that it teaches. Just as in, the Old Testament, God sent his prophets to instruct guide the Chosen People in the way of his commandments, so also Jesus Christ has given us the Church to continue by means of it, the work of our redemption. hence, we must love this Church of which we are members, serve it and respect it as the spiritual Mother given us by God for the glory of His name and Mother also of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, His Son and our Saviour.
Ave Maria!

Continued >>>

The first memoir of Jacinta Fatima, in Lucia's own words
Fatima, in Lucia's own words, Part 2 Fatima, in Lucia's own words, Part 3
The book "Calls" "Calls" Part 2 "Calls" Part 3 "Calls" Part 4
The three secrets Fatima, The Images
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort
Walking with Jesus

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