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Posts tagged ‘Mercy’

The ‘Urgency of the Hour’ during the Jubilee Year of Mercy

The Call to Fatima - Basilica of the Holy RosaryThe ‘Urgency of the Hour’ during the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Last month’s article in the Catholic Voice sparked a chain of support from members of the Legion of Mary, Alliance of the Two Hearts and many others wanting to help to spread more intensely the Fatima message during 2016 / 2017. One lady from Northern Ireland sponsored our Five First Saturday ad in the Fermanagh Herald. Other newspapers contacted us seeking to put the Five First Saturday ad in seven leading local newspapers around the country. At times like this, we wish we knew somebody who won the lotto. On the 13th February 2016, we received an email from Sr Lucia’s private doctor, Dr Branca Paul from Coimbra in Portugal and she says: “Please keep going with all your hearts doing your best, working in “GOD´S FARM”. We have to be patient and persevere in our lives”. With this encouragement, we wish to share some more insight into the writings left behind by Servant of God Sr Lucia.

13th February 2005

On this date 11 years ago, Sr Lucia passed away to her eternal reward. Dr Branca Paul and the Carmel sisters in Coimbra Portugal asked us after her death to double the efforts to spread the Five First Saturday and daily Rosary devotions. Servant of God Sr Lucia stated, “Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.”.

Six years ago, we both personally witnessed Pope Benedict XVI on the 13th May 2010 in Fatima praying before the statue of Our Lady and making the following request “May the seven years which separate us from the Centenary of the Apparitions hasten the expected Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the Glory of the Most Holy Trinity”. Are we witnessing the fruits of the Holy Father’s prayer unfolding before us, when on the 12th February 2016,  after 1000 years, Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church met for the first time in Cuba to open the way for unity and world peace?

No matter what happens in the future, Our Lady still requires our corporation and is ready to assist us in this great battle for souls. Our Lady is inviting each one of us to enter with joy and immense hope into the secure refuge of Her Immaculate Heart and promising us that in the end Her Immaculate Heart of Mary will Triumph. The Rosary and the Five First Saturday devotions are all interlinked to help expediate the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

Five First Saturday Devotion

Why did Our Lady ask for the Five First Saturday devotion? Our Blessed Lord answered that question when He appeared to Sr. Lucia. He explained that it was because of the five offenses and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, namely:

(1) blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception,

(2) against her perpetual virginity,

(3) against the divine and spiritual maternity of Mary,

(4) blasphemies involving the rejection and dishonouring of her images, and

(5) the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of this Immaculate Mother.

Our Lady of Fatima requested the daily Rosary and Five First Saturday devotion. “If what I ask is done, many souls will be saved.” Since Her request is largely ignored, we continue to witness many wars and persecutions of the Church, including the Holy Father. The good are being martyred and various nations are annihilated. (The daily Rosary and the Five First Saturday devotion bring graces for the individuals, families, Bishops and Priests, religious and for each nation).

The role of the Priest and the Laity 

The key elements of the Five First Saturday devotion are captured with the story of the child Jesus appearing to Sr Lucia only emphasises the urgency of the Five First Saturday devotion for our time. What makes this devotion so beautiful is that Our Lady invites her beloved priests to promote it in the parish. Without the priests, three components of this devotion cannot take place namely: Confession, Mass and Holy Communion. Our Lady wisely incorporated the priests in this grace filled devotion to protect Her flock, just like Our Lady did over 2000 years ago for the first apostles.

Five First Saturday Devotion role of the priest is to:    

  1. Hear Confession: The confession can be made eight days before or after the First Saturday, provided that Holy Communion is received in the state of grace and that it should be offered in reparation.
  2. Offer Mass and Holy Communion: Before receiving Holy Communion, it is likewise necessary to offer the Mass in reparation to Our Lady.

Five First Saturday Devotion role of the laity is to:

  1. Go to confession, attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and recite the Holy Rosary and to do 15-minute meditation:-To comply with the request of Our Blessed Mother, it must be offered in reparation and said properly while meditating. Also offered in reparation, the meditation may embrace one or more mysteries; it may include all, taken together or separately. This meditation should be the richest of any meditation, because Our Lady promised to be present when she said “…those who keep me company….”.

To those who faithfully follow Our Lady’s requests for the Five First Saturdays, she has made a wonderful promise: “I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation.”.

After completing the Five First Saturdays, one may continue the devotion simply to console the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. A tender love of Our Blessed Mother will lead one to do all he/she can to make reparation for the sins which pierce Her Immaculate Heart.

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The Daily Rosary  

For six months from May to October, on the 13th day in 1917, the Virgin Mary invited us to recite the daily Rosary, in which the three children would be made humble witnesses to the heart of God in a long-suffering World War I at that time.

The life of Sr Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the little shepherds of Fatima, is a love story of grace and mercy from Heaven to all of humanity. The heavenly peace plan for the world was given to three children to spread the power and beauty of the Most Holy Rosary.

The Carmel Nuns in Coimbra recently shared the following insight with us.“The spontaneous reply by Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in 1917, which ‘the Lady welcomed as the first fruits of Her Message, that is confirmed by the Virgin with an immense light that penetrated the innermost parts of the three children, making them see themselves in this light that was God. This light, in which they receive in June 1917 will also prepared them to receive the secret that was revealed in July 1917: in a succession of images unveiled by the Lady, the children understood that God is not indifferent to our human history; that sin is indifferent to the heart of God; that God’s heart is still merciful and is always in search of humanity entangled in their terrible events.”

One hundred years later pilgrims come to Fatima in hope and turn their gaze to Our Lady of the Rosary. This is, and should be the refuge of millions of human suffering. Today the world continues to rage wars and there is the gigantic struggle of good against evil. This is how the 20th century came to be known.

Those of us who are open to receive the light from the heart of God are invited by Our Lady to join in the daily Rosary, the Five First Saturday devotion and by offering their sacrifice in reparation of sin. What each nation needs in the 21st century is God’s Grace and Mercy.

Pope Francis and the ‘Urgency of the Hour’  

We  recall in the Holy Scriptures how Jonah was sent to Nineveh to preach a warning and a message of repentance to the very sinful people of that city, boldly preaching Forty days and the great city of Nineveh will be destroyed”. To their great credit, together the Ninevites fasted and repented of their sins and “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not carry it out”. [Jonah 3: 1-10]

For our time, Pope Francis has issued from (8th December 2015 to 20th November 2016) the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the whole world. This special occasion is normally celebrated every 25 years in order to allow each generation to experience at least one during their lifetime. This time the special year was called nine years earlier than required indicating ‘the urgency of the hour’ for the Mercy of God. After being elected Pope, Francis said “Mercy is the best thing we can feel; it changes the world.” In this regard, Pope Francis is following the path of Jonah, asking us all to repent, repair our lives and do penance. One of the central messages of Fatima according to Servant of God Sr Lucia is summarised in the last words of Our Lady in Fatima on 13th October 1917, “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended”.

Like the Ninevites, all nations need to contemplate the mystery of mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. Pope Francis suggests for the Jubilee Year to invocate Jesus with a short prayer “Merciful Jesus, I trust in You.” or “Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner”.

Pope Francis has also granted the Jubilee Indulgence for those who do corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisioned, bury the dead, and also those who do spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill and pray for the living and the dead.

St Faustina:

Taken from her diary, Saint Faustina reminds us what God wants for our time.  To Saint Faustina Kowalska Jesus told her: “In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My Mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish suffering mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy. (#1588)…..“I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation” [Diary of St. Faustina, # 1160]

An open invitation

We encourage Irish Bishops, Priests and various religious groups like the Legion of Mary, Alliance of The Two Hearts, World Fatima Apostolate and Marian Movement of Priests to double their efforts to spread the Five First Saturdays and daily rosary devotions during the Jubilee Year of Mercy / 100th anniversary of Fatima in 2016 / 2017. We invite the laity to promote and display the Five First Saturday devotion in their community, so that God’s graces and mercy is more widely known and loved.

In answer to the call by Pope Francis, The Call to Fatima team is available to give parish presentation on Fatima in 2016. Sr Lucia’s books / DVD’s are also available srluciacalltofatima@gmail.com or by phone + 353-87-2229135 Blog www.thecalltofatima.wordpress.com

 

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PASTORAL LETTER OF THE HOLY FATHER POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND

1. Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious. I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation. Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made and lessons learned, and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place. Our discussions were frank and constructive. I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.

2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country, I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God’s grace.

At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember “the rock from which you were hewn” (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ.

3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like Saint Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of medieval monastic culture. The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe. Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.

From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances. Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel. After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century. The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world. They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.

In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone – a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle – who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing.

5. On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, “to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes” (Address to the Bishops of Ireland, 28 October 2006).

With this Letter, I wish to exhort all of you, as God’s people in Ireland, to reflect on the wounds inflicted on Christ’s body, the sometimes painful remedies needed to bind and heal them, and the need for unity, charity and mutual support in the long-term process of restoration and ecclesial renewal. I now turn to you with words that come from my heart, and I wish to speak to each of you individually and to all of you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

6. To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

7. To priests and religious who have abused children

You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.

I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

8. To parents

You have been deeply shocked to learn of the terrible things that took place in what ought to be the safest and most secure environment of all. In today’s world it is not easy to build a home and to bring up children. They deserve to grow up in security, loved and cherished, with a strong sense of their identity and worth. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person, to be inspired by the truth of our Catholic faith and to learn ways of behaving and acting that lead to healthy self-esteem and lasting happiness. This noble but demanding task is entrusted in the first place to you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments. As you carry out your vital responsibilities, be assured that I remain close to you and I offer you the support of my prayers.

9. To the children and young people of Ireland

I wish to offer you a particular word of encouragement. Your experience of the Church is very different from that of your parents and grandparents. The world has changed greatly since they were your age. Yet all people, in every generation, are called to travel the same path through life, whatever their circumstances may be. We are all scandalized by the sins and failures of some of the Church’s members, particularly those who were chosen especially to guide and serve young people. But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). He loves you and he has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with him within the communion of his Church, for he will never betray your trust! He alone can satisfy your deepest longings and give your lives their fullest meaning by directing them to the service of others. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his goodness, and shelter the flame of faith in your heart. Together with your fellow Catholics in Ireland, I look to you to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to bring your much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved Church.

10. To the priests and religious of Ireland

All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned. I am also aware that in some people’s eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of his Church and your confidence in the Gospel’s promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (cf. Rom 5:20).

I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors. Yet, it is essential that you cooperate closely with those in authority and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective. Above all, I urge you to become ever more clearly men and women of prayer, courageously following the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation. In this way, the Church in Ireland will draw new life and vitality from your witness to the Lord’s redeeming power made visible in your lives.

11. To my brother bishops

It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters. It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.

Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal. The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of Saint Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ (cf. Sermon 340, 1). I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock. In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests. Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.

The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Church’s life and mission. This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.

12. To all the faithful of Ireland

A young person’s experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community. In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition. In our increasingly secularized society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church. In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.

13. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is out of deep concern for all of you at this painful time in which the fragility of the human condition has been so starkly revealed that I have wished to offer these words of encouragement and support. I hope that you will receive them as a sign of my spiritual closeness and my confidence in your ability to respond to the challenges of the present hour by drawing renewed inspiration and strength from Ireland’s noble traditions of fidelity to the Gospel, perseverance in the faith and steadfastness in the pursuit of holiness.In solidarity with all of you, I am praying earnestly that, by God’s grace, the wounds afflicting so many individuals and families may be healed and that the Church in Ireland may experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal.

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.

In this Year for Priests, I commend to you most particularly the figure of Saint John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood. “The priest”, he wrote, “holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods.” The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organizing the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments. Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it. While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.

I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalized and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church. As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen. With great affection and unswerving confidence in God’s promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Sister Lucia of Fatima: Knowledge of God

everything is created by God“Who is God?

God manifests Himself also in the preservation of created beings. We see that the achievements of men are realised 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 exists and was created by God!

It all must remain 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.

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 seas. The same is true of oxygen, hydrogen, electricity, etc.

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!”

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