Fifth Sunday of Easter 14 May 2017
Rejoice in Our Lady of Fatima!
In our current sessions of Pivotal Players we are finding ourselves standing in awe of the great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo. Entering St. Peter’s Basilica you are experiencing one of the wonders he produced. Your senses burst awake as the interior of the Church is revealed. So much lifts the heart and mind, indeed the soul, to Almighty God. Enter once or 50 times and the experience is the same!
In this great shrine you soon notice there is always a crowd, often a large one, at the first chapel on your right. Small wonder, for that is where Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Pieta is found. It is an articulate proclamation of faith, wrought from a single block of marble. The lifeless body of the Lord is held tenderly in the arms of his mother. They form though one unity. The detail of the presentation conveys quickly the tragic truth: he has just been removed from the cross.
But the work tells so much more. Designed as an altar piece, the left hand of the Virgin gently offers the body of her son to all who gaze. Her right hand lovingly and gently supports it, but even she does not touch: a veil separates her hand from his flesh. An inspired representation designed for an altar where the true Body and Blood of the Savior is offered again, then given through God’s mercy to the faithful who accept his invitation to eat and drink.
I love the Pieta. I love Mary, our Mother. I hope I share that in common with you. We need Mary, once tried so deeply, who remained sinless. One who loved God, and was given the grace to be the mother of his Son! Assumed body and soul into heaven, one who has gone where we dearly hope to follow! May God give all of us a greater love for his mother, the mother of Jesus, the mother of the Church!
Today (yesterday) the Church observes the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, the little shepherds at Fatima. The Angel of Peace preceded her. But it was the lady who told them to pray the rosary every day to achieve peace.
Much has been said through the years about the three secrets of Fatima. It was on July 13, 1917 that these were entrusted to the children. The first secret involved a vision of hell in which the pain and isolation of the damned was witnessed in frightening detail. The second warned of another great war to follow during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. This occurred with WW II.
At the direction of the local Bishop, Lucia wrote the third secret down in 1944. It spoke of a great persecution of believers that would follow. Many have seen that fulfilled in the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world through the 1900’s, and that continues today. It also spoke of a Pope who would carry the pains and cares of his persecuted flock and who would himself be killed when shot by bullets and arrows. Pope John Paul II applied this to the attempt to kill him in St. Peter’s Square in 1981. He credited his being spared to the direct intervention of Mary, and had an icon of her erected above the piazza.
It was a great source of grace for my sister and me to be at Fatima two weeks ago for Mass. It is a place of great faith, and the spirit of God moved powerfully within me as a pilgrim who went there.
Mary’s message at Fatima was one of peace. She instructed the children to pray the rosary for peace, to pray in reparation to God for the sins of many, and to reverence the Holy Father. That remains the message of Fatima. Pray for peace. Pray in reparation to God for sin. Pray for the Holy Father.
Today in the Gospel Jesus responds to Thomas and instructs him “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” What did Jesus preach? He preached repentance from sin. He taught his disciples to pray. He taught them to follow in his path as servant and friend. Mary’s message at Fatima is so similar.
So that is my message to you today: Repent of your own sin. Again! Every one of us! Yes, repent! Pray fervently and regularly to God in reparation for the sins of all. Pray for our Holy Father. And pray for peace. Pray especially the rosary, for peace! We desperately need the cessation of violence and the advent of peace in our world. A key is in our hands, believers in Jesus who reverence his mother. A challenge for each one today: yes for everyone here. Pray the rosary each day in this month of May. Pray it for peace. Mary has asked it. Today I do too. Do your very best to follow through! It is bound to please the Lord greatly if you do.
Msgr. John R. Murphy,
Visitation Rectory, Norfolk, NY