In the coolness of the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall, on yet another day of scorching temps in Rome, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “in our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.”

He said, “when Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, ‘untouchable’.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God. This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.”

Francis explained that, “we who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world.”


At the end of the general audience on Wednesday; pope Francis once again pleaded for an end to “every form of hatred and violence,” most especially “in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

The Holy Father said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.” At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope then added, “unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community,” and said such attacks on places of worship should cease. “I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He asked the faithful at today’s audience to remember their brothers and sisters in these countries in prayer, and then led the faithful in reciting the Hail Mary.


What do the Vatican Apostolic Library and an OWL have in common?

The answer comes in the latest email missive from Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL is just wonderful, and ever so instructive, if you are fan of libraries in general and the Vatican Apostolic Library in particular:

Dear Friends,

I am sending you the link to the second edition of OWL, the Official Newsletter of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL means Online Window into the Library

In this edition: – The Real “Hidden” Treasures of the Vatican Library: Palimpsests – The Dialogue of the Vatican Apostolic Library with Artists – Ninety Years since the Beginning of the Library’s “American Experience” – “Terra mariana”: the President of Latvia’s Visit to the Vatican Library – The Royal Family of the Netherlands Visit the Apostolic Library – An Encounter with Russian Librarians

Enjoy your summer reading!


I read today’s second story, a very human, wonderful, moving story, shortly after reading the papal catechesis on Baptism, and I immediately saw the link between Francis’ words and the deeds of this young cashier at a Walmart store.

This article from Aleteia was written by Patty Knap and was entitled, “Serving God and a Woman in Need at Walmart.” It was sub-titled: “This 20-year-old cashier felt nudged by God to help a customer, and ‘When God tells me to do something, I do it’.”

May God bless this young man abundantly (I feel He already has!) as well as the woman he helped!

This will make your day, for sure!


After spending July in the Santa Marta residence on what we would call a “working vacation,” Pope Francis was again in the spotlight Wednesday as he presided at the weekly general audience. The gathering took place in the air conditioned Paul VI Hall, given the torrid temperatures throughout Italy, especially in larger cities where 100 degrees Fahrenheit has almost become the norm, as have drought conditions throughout the nation.

The Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on Christian hope and highlighted the sacrament of baptism as the gate to eternal life. He began with a beautiful explanation that noted that, “In the early Church, those about to be baptized made their profession of faith facing eastward, seeing the rising sun as a symbol of Christ. Even if our modern world has lost contact with such cosmic imagery, this symbolism retains its power.

In our times, the Pope said, we have lost our fascination with this rite; we have lost our “sensitivity to the language of the cosmos.” But we have retained the significance of the rite: To be a Christian means “to look to the light, to continue to make the profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped up in the night and in darkness”:

“In putting on Christ at baptism we become children of light,” continued the Holy Father. “This light gives us new hope, helps us to know God as Father, and enables us to recognize Jesus in the weakest and poorest. When we were baptized we received a candle that was lit from the Paschal Candle, as a sign of Christ’s victory over the darkness of sin and death. This is also a sign of the life of the Church: to be ablaze with this new light! As Christians, let us remind each other that we have been reborn as children of the light, and, faithful to our baptismal calling, let us share the new hope that Jesus brings.

As he has done on previous occasions when talking about Baptism, Francis asked those present if they knew the date of their Baptism, “which is the date of your rebirth, it is the date of the light, it is the date in which…we were contaminated by the light of Christ.” Holding his hand to his ear, he aked them to repeat their response more loudly.

“What a grace it is,” the Holy Father concluded, “when a Christian truly becomes a ‘Christopher’, a ‘bearer of Christ’ in the world. If we would be faithful to our Baptism, we would spread the light of hope – Baptism is the beginning of hope, that hope of God – and we would pass on to future generations reasons for life.”


A frazzled looking woman showed up at the checkout line of a Walmart in Newcastle, Oklahoma, and a row of impatient customers quickly formed behind her.

She had three active kids with her as she loaded a lot of groceries on to the belt. As she got out a card, a few customers let it be known that they were annoyed it was taking so long.

The 20 year-old cashier, Nicholas Tate, wasn’t impatient, though. He was calm and compassionate as he casually asked, “Has it been one of those days?”

The woman responded yes and said she was a foster parent and had just signed up for a federal program that helps low-income families – WIC.  It was her first time using her WIC card.

“She apologized beforehand because she was using WIC and had never used it before,” the Austin Bible Institute student said. He told her it wouldn’t be a problem.

But it turned out there was a problem. The foster mom’s new card wasn’t working for several items, including the main thing she needed — baby formula.

Cashier Nicholas was about to call for a manager but felt prompted to intercede himself.  “I felt like God was calling for me to pay for her bill,” he said. “It was without a doubt – God was saying, ‘Pay for this.’”

So that’s just what he did.  He got out his own credit card to pay for the $60 worth of groceries. The foster mom was so flabbergasted she burst into tears and left the store.

“When God tells me to do something, I do it,” Nicholas said. “God told me, ‘I put you in this place at the right time and I knew you were ready for this – to pay for this. So without hesitation, I pulled my card out and swiped it.”

A few days later, another customer came up to Nicholas and showed him a Facebook post, and asked if he was the cashier mentioned in the posting. The foster mom had been so shocked by the young cashier’s kindness and generosity that she hadn’t thanked him. She decided to post a message on Facebook hoping to find the cashier’s name so she could thank him.

Thanks to social networking, she was able to do just that, and more.

“I don’t remember everything he said to me after [swiping his card] but I do know he told me that I wasn’t failing and that what we were doing was an amazing thing,” the woman explained.

“I have been able to get into contact with this young man … and thank him again as well as his mom and tell her how incredibly blessed we were by her son and thank her for raising such an exceptional young man,” she wrote. “Additionally multiple managers from Wal-Mart have contacted me regarding this issue to figure out who it was, wanting to help make it right and help however they can. As well as someone from WIC.”

Meanwhile Nicholas, who hopes to be a missionary in Honduras some day, says he’s surprised how many people have been touched by his kindness to a stranger. “It was pretty cool getting to talk to her. I was just trying to bless someone and make their day and it turned into something incredible,” he said.

“It’s not what I did,” Nicholas said. “It’s what God did through something so small. He took something so small and He glorified his name with it.”

(JFL: The name Nicholas is Greek in origin and means ‘victory of the people’)



As you will see in the third story, I mention the SPC, the Secretariat for Communications. I had reason to look up a name today in the Vatican’s 2017 phone directory and was surprised to see that the SPC has 11 pages of phone numbers (Secretariat of State has only 4 and a half), having combined all the Vatican communications offices (newspaper, CTV, radio, press office, etc) under one umbrella. Took me quite a while to find the one name I needed!


Before today’s general audience, Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League Hall of Fame, including six previous inductees, one team owner who will be inducted in August, and members of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees.Francis said. “I am pleased to greet you, the members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to welcome you to the Vatican.  As many of you know, I am an avid follower of ‘football’, but where I come from, the game is played very differently!”

The Pope highlighted the “traditional values of sportsmanship that you (NFL) seek to embody, both on the field and in your own lives, your families and your communities.  Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”

The Holy Father, as he has done on many occasions when addressing sports figures and groups and young people in general, stressed the importance of “teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence” saying these “are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues” that are also “urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.  They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.  How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!”


The Holy Father Wednesday, contin uing his series of catecheses on Christian hope, reflected on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began Francis, “we now look to the saints, to ‘those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith’.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.”

The Pope went on to note that, “the lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.”

“May the Lord enable all of us,” concluded Francis, “to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope.”


Click on (then save) the following link and you’ll see the chart I posted below. I’ve not visited every site before posting this today, just a few, however some of them are still from the http://www.vatican.va site and have not been updated in quite some time. Other are quite interesting. I’m guessing this is all part of the Secretariat for Communication’s (SPC) planned reform in the area of communications and that some day there will be a totally new website that will be updated frequently, if not daily.


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith www.doctrinafidei.va www.memoriafidei.va www.acdf.va
Pontifical Commission for Latin America (Congregation for Bishops) www.americalatina.va
Pontifical Mission Societies (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.ppoomm.va
Museum of Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.museopropagandafide.va
Historical Archive “de Propaganda Fide” (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.archiviostoricopropaganda.va
Congregation for the Clergy www.clerus.va
Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study) www.educatio.va
Congregation for the Causes of Saints www.causesanti.va
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life www.congregazionevitaconsacrata.va
Apostolic Penitentiary www.penitenzieria.va
Roman Rota www.rotaromana.va
Pontifical Council for the Laity www.laici.va
Pontifical Council for the Family www.familia.va
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace www.iustitiaetpax.va www.laudatosi.va
Pontifical Council for Culture www.cultura.va
Pontifical Council for Social Communications www.pccs.va www.intermirifica50.va
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization www.novaevangelizatio.va www.annusfidei.va www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts www.delegumtextibus.va
Pontifical Council Cor Unum www.corunum.va www.corunumjubilaeum.va
Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life www.laityfamilylife.va
XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Holy See Press Office’s Communications Channel) synod15.vatican.va
XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops youth.synod2018.va
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors www.protectionofminors.va
Pontifical Musical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel: www.cappellamusicalepontificia.va
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation www.centesimusannus.va
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem www.oessh.va
Campo Santo Teutonico www.camposanto.va www.camposantoteutonico.va www.erzbruderschaft.va www.paepstlichespriesterkolleg.va www.pontificiocollegioteutonico.va www.deutscherfriedhof.va www.cimiteroteutonico.va www.priesterkolleg.va www.collegioteutonico.va
Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses www.congressieucaristici.va
Pontifical Swiss Guard www.guardiasvizzera.va
Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences www.historia.va
Vatican Secret Archives asv.vatican.va (www.archiviosegretovaticano.va) www.scuolavaticanapaleografia.va
Vatican Library www.vaticanlibrary.va
L’Osservatore Romano www.osservatoreromano.va
Vatican Publishing House www.libreriaeditricevaticana.va
Vatican Radio www.radiovaticana.va
Photografic Service of L’Osservatore Romano www.photo.va
Office of Papal Charities www.elemosineria.va
Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) www.avepro.va
Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) www.aif.va
Vatican Television Center (CTV) www.ctv.va
Excavations Office (Fabric of St. Peter) www.scavi.va
ULSA (Labour Office of the Apostolic See) www.ulsa.va
Vatican City State www.vaticanstate.va
Vatican Museums www.museivaticani.va
Online Ticket Office of the Vatican Museums biglietteriamusei.vatican.va
The Vatican Observatory 2014 Summer School www.voss2014.va
Vatican Observatory www.vaticanobservatory.va
Pontifical Academy of Sciences www.casinapioiv.va www.endslavery.va
Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences www.pass.va
Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas www.past.va
Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music www.musicasacra.va
Abuse of minors. The Church’s response www.resources.va
Pontifical Council Cor Unum www.corunum.va
Photo Galleries www.photogallery.va
The Joseph Ratzinger Vatican Foundation www.fondazioneratzinger.va
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation www.centesimusannus.va
Paediatric Medical Foundation of Santa Marta www.dispensariosantamarta.va
Pontifical Parish of St Anne in the Vatican www.santanna.va
Institute for Religious Works (IOR) www.ior.va
Pontifical Delegation for the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua



One of my favorite days during the years has always been June 14 when we celebrate Flag Day in America. Maybe because it was just as summer began and summer was marked by vacation time, bar-b-ques, beach parties and cookouts, July 4th and our independence. Everywhere you went, you’d find an American flag; wherever a flag could be hung or unfurled or simply placed in the sand at a beach, there it was, the Stars and Stripes.

There were then and are today rules for displaying the flag. I remember always having a flag on our home. We took it down at night because a flag could not be displayed at night unless a light was shining on it.

My heart breaks today when I read of people being unable to display the US flag at their home because of homeowers association regulations, or regulations from some other group.

Today I wish all my fellow Americans a Happy Flag Day, whether it is waving in the wind at your home or you are wearing a flag pin.


Before he began today’s general audience just before 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Paul VI Hall to greet sick people and their family members.

According to Vatican Radio which records such papal remarks, the Holy Father greeted to the sick, “Good morning to you all! Please be seated, be seated… Today we will hold the audience in two different places, but we will be joined by the maxi-screen, and so you will be more comfortable here, because in the square it is very hot! It will be a Turkish bath today!

“Thank you very much for coming,” continued the Pope, “And afterwards, listen to what I will say, but with the heart joined to those who are in the square: the Church is like this. A group here, a group there, but all united. And who unites the Church? The Holy Spirit. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to unite us all here today, in this audience. Veni, Sancte Spiritus … Our Father… Hail Mary…

”And now, I give you my blessing……Thank you, and pray for me! Do not forget! And we will continue to see each other…

A half hour later, Francis reached St. Peter’s Square, addressing groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and around the world on the theme of Christian hope.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “In our catechesis on Christian hope, we have found the source of that hope in God’s unconditional love, revealed for us in the coming of the Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  None of us can live without love. Happiness comes from the experience of knowing love, freely given and received.

Francis went on to say, in very comforting words, “So much unhappiness in our world is born of the feeling of not being loved for our own sake.  Faith teaches us that God loves us with an infinite love, not for any merit of our own, but out of his sheer goodness.  Even when we stray from him, God seeks us out, like the merciful father in the parable of the prodigal son, offers us forgiveness, and restores us to his embrace.

The Pope explained that, “In the words of Saint Paul: ‘While we still were sinners, Christ died for us’ so that we might become beloved sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.  Through the resurrection of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit, we become sharers in God’s own life of love.  May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom.  For in his love is the source of all our hope.”


 At 13.00 today, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, gave a briefing on the twentieth meeting of the Council of Cardinals attended by the Holy Father Francis. The Council of Cardinals met with the Holy Father for three days: Monday 12, Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 June. All members of the Council were present apart from Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

Pope Francis was absent this morning owing to the general audience.

The working sessions took place in the morning from 9.00 to 12.30, and in the afternoon from 16.30 to 19.00, and were dedicated to further consideration of the ways in which the Roman Curia can better serve the local Churches. For example, a larger consultation board made up also of members from consecrated life and the laity, for candidates proposed for appointment as bishop.

Among other proposals, the possibility of transferring some functions from the Roman Dicasteries to the local bishops or episcopal councils, in a spirit of healthy decentralization. For example, the transfer from the Congregation for the Clergy to the Episcopal Conference for examination and authorization for: the priestly ordination of an unmarried permanent deacon; the passage to new marriage for a widowed permanent deacon; the request for priestly ordination by a widowed permanent deacon.

The Cardinals gave further consideration to various Dicasteries of the Curia, in particular the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The Council studied and reread texts proposed for submission to the Holy Father regarding the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue; the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches; the Dicastery for Legislative Texts; and three tribunals: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

Cardinal George Pell provided an update on the work of the Secretariat for the Economy, of which he is the president. Particular attention was paid to the steps ahead made in the process of planning of economic resources and in monitoring financial plans for the first trimester of 2017 which have substantially confirmed, with few exceptions, the budget data. Shortly the budget process will begin for 2018, and the monitoring for the second trimester of 2017.

The prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, presented a report on the state of the reform of the communication system of the Holy See; he illustrated the economic and management progress of the SPC, demonstrating positive results. He then explained the projects in the realization phase of the new communication system, in accordance with the Holy Father’s recent address on the occasion of the Dicastery’s first Plenary.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place on 11, 12 and 14 September 2017. (Holy See Press Office)




Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on Christian hope at today’s general audience and highlighted “Mary Magdalene, Apostle of Hope.”

He centered his talk on the Gospel of St John (20:15-18) where Mary ran to the tomb, looking for Jesusì body: “Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? She thought it was the gardener and said to him, Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him. Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,”

The Holy Father explained that “St. John tells us on Easter morning Mary had gone to the tomb of Jesus; she saw that it was empty, and returned to tell this news to Peter and the other disciples.  Returning to the tomb, yet still not understanding what had happened, Mary encounters the Risen Lord, but does not recognize him until he calls her by name.

“This first appearance of Jesus after rising from the dead,” said Francis, “is thus something intensely personal.  We know that just as he did with Mary Magdalen, so too Jesus calls each of us by name and fills us with joy at his presence.  Our encounter with him brings freedom and opens up new vistas of life; it transforms our world and brings undying hope.

Pope Francis noted that, “the risen Lord tells Mary not to cling to him, but to go and tell the good news of his resurrection to the others.  Mary Magdalen thus becomes the apostle of Christian hope.  By her prayers, may we be encounter anew the risen Lord, who calls us by name, turns our sorrow into joy, and sends us forth to proclaim by our lives that he is truly risen.”

After the audience catechesis, the Pope paid tribute to Polish military veterans who fought in the 1944 Battle of Montecassino because former soldiers from the Polish army’s Second Corps are in Rome for the anniversary of the Second World War battle and they attended today’s audience.

Francis praised the veterans who “fought for the freedom of your country and for other nations,” saying the “sacrifice of life” of their companions had helped bring peace to Europe and the whole world.

Well known here in Italy and a major event in history books, the Battle of Montecassino ivolved four allied assaults on German positions during a four month period and, as a result, tens of thousands died on both sides.

The Holy Father also greeted two orders of nuns as they celebrate their General Chapters in Rome, the Montfort Missionaries of the Company of Mary and the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, urging both commnuties to renew their commitment to passing on the love of God to others and to “ renew their adherence to their respective charisms.”



This week’s general audience began at 9.25. in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, where thousands of pilgrims and faithful from around the world listened to Pope Francis who, after greeting everyone present, explained that, “In our catechesis on Christian hope, today we look to Mary, Mother of hope,” and he highlighted her role as Mother.

“Mary went through more than one dark night on her journey as a mother,” he said. “From her earliest appearance in the history of the Gospels, she stands out as if she were a character in a drama. It was not easy to answer ‘yes’ to the angel’s invitation: yet she, a woman still in the flower of youth, answers with courage, despite knowing nothing about the fate that awaited her. Mary at that moment appears to us like one of the many mothers of our world, brave to the extreme when it comes to welcoming in her womb the story of a new person to be born.

“Thus,” said Francis, “Mary appears in the Gospels as a silent woman who often does not understand all that is happening around her but ponders every word and every event in her heart.

He then described Mary’s psychology: “She is not a woman who is discouraged by the uncertainties of life, especially when nothing seems to go in the right direction. Nor is she a woman who protests with violence, who inveighs against the destiny in life that often reveals a hostile face. Instead, she is a woman who listens: do not forget that there is always a great relationship between hope and listening, and Mary is a woman who listens. Mary welcomes existence just as it is given to us, with its happy days, but also with its tragedies we would never have wished to encounter. Up to the supreme night of Mary, when her Son is nailed to the wood of the cross.

“Until that day, Mary had almost disappeared from the story of the Gospels: the sacred writers leave implicit this slow eclipse of her presence, her remaining silent faced with the mystery of a Son Who obeys His Father. But Mary reappears precisely at that crucial moment, when a good number of His friends have fled out of fear.”

The Pope asked what “the cruellest passion was: that of an innocent man who dies on the scaffold of the cross, or the agony of a mother who witnesses the last moments of her son’s life. The Gospels … record in a simple verb the presence of the Mother: she “stood” (John 19:25). She was standing. They say nothing of her reaction: whether or not she wept… nothing; not even a brushstroke to describe her grief: the imagination of poets and painters were to seize upon these details, giving us images that have entered the history of art and literature. But the Gospels just say, she was “standing”. She was there, in the worst moment, in the cruellest moment, and suffered with her son. ‘She stood’. Mary ‘stood, she was simply there.”

The Holy Father pointed out that, “We find her again in the first day of the Church, she, mother of hope, in the midst of that community of disciples, so fragile: one had renounced, many had fled, and all had been afraid. But she was simply there, in the most normal of ways, as if it were something entirely natural.”

And, concluded Francis, “this is why we all love her as a Mother. We are not orphans: we have a Mother in heaven, who is the Holy Mother of God. Because she teaches us the virtue of waiting, even when everything seems to be without meaning; she is always trustful in the mystery of God, even when He seems to be eclipsed by the evil in the world. In moments of difficulty, may Mary, the Mother who Jesus gave to all of us, always be able to sustain our steps, may she always be able to say to our heart, ‘Arise! Look ahead, look to the horizon’, because she is the Mother of hope. Thank you.”


Pope Francis has sent a message of greeting to the people of Portugal as he prepares to travel to Fatima on the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children on May 13th 1917. Click here to see message: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-sends-video-message-ahead-of-fatima-pilgrimag

Brian O’Neel (National Catholic Register)

Celebrations abound across the country –

While the Blessed Mother has appeared several dozen times in Christianity’s history, it is likely no apparition has had the same impact as Our Lady of Fatima.

Therefore, it is not surprising that parishes and dioceses, and even individual apostolates, around the nation are planning events to commemorate the centennial of an event that arguably changed the world.

While some of these are relatively humble, several dioceses are planning major programs to bring the Fatima message home to the faithful.

In the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, Bishop John Barres has penned a pastoral letter to rekindle diocesan devotion to Mary in 2017.“She is asking us to repent from sin and follow the path of holiness and eternal life right now, without delay, in the present moment. She wants us to care about and pray for the souls around us and for the salvation of the whole world.”

At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, New York, the anniversary of the first apparition, May 13, will see a Rosary procession, blessing of a new statue set of the three seers — Lucia dos Santos and cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto — and a solemn Mass with Bishop Richard Malone of the Buffalo Diocese.

The Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, will commemorate the event with two Masses on first Saturdays at the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus provincial headquarters in Cherry Hill. The first was on May 6. The next takes place June 3. The Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will also see several events throughout the year at Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Jonestown.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, will celebrate a Mother’s Day Mass as part of the anniversary celebrations on May 13 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, which stands where St. Isaac Jogues was martyred.

At the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin — the site of the only approved Marian apparition in the United States — Green Bay Bishop David Ricken will celebrate Mass on May 18, inaugurating a daylong program featuring David Carollo, director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, and Father Francisco Pereira, who serves as chaplain at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal.

The Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, will host two events, both on May 13, one at the cathedral and the other at Christ the King Church in Mandan.

Each year on the first Sunday of May the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, has an annual Marian Rosary Festival featuring a different patroness. This year the patroness is Our Lady of Fatima.

In Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary are instigating a campaign to pray 13 million Rosaries in the centennial year. In conjunction with this, on the date of each of the six Fatima apparitions, there will be a special event at a different parish.

Additionally, the Trinitarian Fathers in Palmetto Bay are hosting a novena that started May 5 and closes on May 13.

Overall, most commemorations are one-time events, by and large on May 13, although in Fort Worth, Texas, Bishop Michael Olson will celebrate a Mass on Oct. 13, the date marking the final apparition, “The Miracle of the Sun,” where the sun “danced” in the sky and even seemed to people as far as 25 miles away to plummet to the earth. He will also dedicate a special statue at the event carved by craftsmen in Vietnam.

Several dioceses are doing something extraordinary.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin inaugurated a “Year With Mary, Our Mother” on Jan. 1. Its purpose for the centennial year is to “provide special opportunities for Catholics in the diocese to increase their devotion to a particular aspect of the Catholic faith.”

In his monthly column, the bishop writes, “The Fatima centenary invites us to hear and heed with renewed attention the message of our Blessed Mother at Fatima.”

Similarly, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver has instituted a “Fatima Pilgrimage Year” and designated a holy door with an attached indulgence at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lakewood, and there is an affiliated campaign to pray two million Rosaries.

The bishops of the Dioceses of Tyler, Texas, and Santa Rosa, California, will consecrate their dioceses to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Every diocese and eparchy in Pennsylvania will also be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Each year Tyler holds a Marian conference. Usually in October, this year it will take place May 13 at Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School’s chapel. During Mass at the event, Bishop Joseph Strickland will consecrate the diocese to help the faithful “grow in holiness … under the … Mother of God.”

Santa Rosa’s consecration renews the one done in 1983 by the late Bishop Mark Hurley. In preparation, each parish will have a “Marian promoter” who will oversee one or more retreats based on Father Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory. The diocese will supply materials for this preparation.

“Rather than simply hosting a one-day event,” Bishop Robert Vasa wrote in April, “I ask that every parish participate in a thorough spiritual catechesis and preparation for this personal, parish and diocesan consecration or entrustment.” He has an eloquent explanation of his reasons for doing this.

As for Pennsylvania, the dedication grew out of a meeting of the commonwealth’s bishops on May 1. According to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, “What prompted the proposal was the intent for the dioceses and eparchies in the commonwealth to observe the 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima.”

According to a news release, the dedication will take place over two separate occasions. “The official dedication will be marked with a special Mass to be celebrated in St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 27, by all bishops in the state. … The second part of the dedication will be an observance in each diocese and eparchy the weekend of Oct. 14-15.”

In the Archdiocese of New York, the Dominicans will inaugurate a new shrine to Pope St. John Paul II at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in the city. The dedication will take place on May 13 at a 3pm Mass. Central to the shrine is a relic that consists of a blood-stained portion of the sash that St. John Paul II was wearing during the 1981 attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square. The relic will be ensconced below a smaller version of the statute of Our Lady of Fatima found on the façade of the shrine church in Fatima, Portugal.

Shrine official and Dominican priest Father Thomas More Garrett told the Register, “At Fatima, Our Lady echoed that first message of the Gospel delivered by her Son: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel’ (Mark 1:15).  The call to repentance, through acts of penance, formed much of the core of Our Lady’s message to the children at Fatima.”

“St. John Paul II, throughout his pontificate, urged the world to turn to God’s mercy. Confidence in God’s mercy begins with repentance. Our hope is that this new shrine of St. John Paul will merge the mission of Fatima with that of our saintly pope and turn many toward those first words of Jesus’ own ministry.”

Even if one’s parish or diocese is not doing anything for the centenary, respected German Mariologist Father Manfred Hauke tells the Register the faithful can do their own commemoration that not only keeps Fatima alive this year, but in the years to come.

Of special importance, he noted, are the First Saturday devotions, which includes 15 minutes of meditation on the Rosary’s mysteries, with the intention to expiate offenses against the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts: confession and receiving Communion in reparation for sins. He also commends the daily Rosary, “especially in the family and in the parishes,” which carries with it a plenary indulgence.

It is possible that, for many of the faithful, the best commemoration they can make for this once-in-a-lifetime anniversary — beyond prayer — is to learn more about the apparitions. See NCRegister.com for ongoing Fatima coverage. EWTN also has a website (EWTN.com/Fatima).


It is now 8 pm, and it has suddenly dawned on my that, after spending the day listening to and editing the interview I will present this weekend on “Vatican Insider,” preparing for this afternoon’s weekly phone conversation with Teresa Tomeo on “Catholic Connection” and researching and writing two segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy,” I had not prepared a single sentence for my daily column.

Well, there you have it, my day in a single sentence!

My only other offering for the day is a look at the weekly general audience:


As is traditional at the weekly general audience that takes place following a papal trip, Pope Francis Wednesday spoke of his extraordinarily rich trip to Egypt where, in only 27 hours, he held meetings of great importance with religious leaders, including the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University, the summit of Sunni Islam teaching, and addressed the International Peace Conference organized by the Grand Imam. (photo: news.va)

He spoke of his visit to Al-Azhar, saying it was focused on both “dialogue between Christians and Muslims” and “the promotion of peace” in the world. Pope Francis summarized his address at the International Conference for peace, and emphasized Egypt’s history as a “land of civility” and a “land of covenant.

Egypt, said the Holy Father, recalling words from the Grand Imam al-Tayeb, “reminds us that peace is built through education, formation in wisdom, a humanism that includes the religious dimension, the relationship with God, as an integral part.” He explained that “peace is built on the relationship between God and men, and on the alliance between all human beings. This… is the foundation for a civil and social order in which all are called to participate.”

Pope Francis said Christians are called to be a “leaven of fraternity,” in Egypt and elsewhere. He described his meeting with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Pope Tawadros II and their “Common Statement” as “signs of the commitment of Christians to that fraternity.”

Saturday, April 29, the second day of the papal trip, was dedicated to the Catholic faithful. It included Mass in a stadium with 15,000 faithful, a Mass the Pope called “a feast of faith and fraternity.” He also reflected on the final event – the meeting with priests, religious, and seminarians. He said the many seminarians in Egypt are a “consolation.

In conclusion, the Holy Father said Christians in the region, guided by their pastors, should be “salt and light” for the Middle East. He called his voyage to Egypt “a sign of hope, refuge, and help,” and said it “signifies walking together along the path of hope.” Pope Francis said Egypt is a “sign of hope” for fraternity, not just in the past, but also for the present day.