|Vigil of 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions (photo fatima.pt)|
As is customary in Fátima on the 12th and 13th of each month from May to October, there are ceremonies to commemorate the Anniversary of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Pastorinhos. Pope Francis led the ceremonies in May, the 100th Anniversary of the First Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, which also saw the canonisation of the two youngest seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, cause of much joy to the Church in Portugal, and Fátima devotees worldwide. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa, was invited to preside over the 100th Anniversary of the Second Apparition. The June International Pilgrimage had the theme of "Glory to You, Queen of Peace"
For his homily of the Vigil Mass, held at night, Cardinal Bagnasco chose to focus on light. The message left by Our Lady at Fatima a 100 years ago always points to salvation because in Fátima "everything happens in the light," said Cardinal Bagnasco. This point made all the more poignant as the Vigil Mass was preceded by the customary candlelight Rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions and the Candlelight Procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima, accompanied by the famous Ave of Fátima.
Cardinal Bagnasco underlined that the message of Fátima can be condensed into two words "Prayer and Penance". He also praised the Shrine which "holds Mary who keeps the faith intact". According to the Shrine of Fatima website, 164 pilgrimage groups, with a total of 8242 pilgrims, coming from all corners in the world, participated in the ceremonies for the June Apparition Anniversary. Poland provided the most groups with 27, followed by Italy with 23. Of the United States, 11 groups came with a total of 480 pilgrims. There were also pilgrims from the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, Swaziland, Singapore, Slovakia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and of course Portugal.
Below is my translation of Cardinal Bagnasco's Homily at the Vigil Mass for the 100th Anniversary of the June Apparitions in Fátima. Original Portuguese here:
"My Heart shall triumph"
It is a great joy for me to be in Fátima for the Centenary of the Apparitions! To be here with you, pilgrims from Portugal and other countries. The canonisation of the Shepherd children, with Pope Francis, still resonates here in this Shrine, which became as large as the world. This place - like a large Upper Room - guarded by Mary, who keeps the Faith intact. To disfigure the Faith, means disfiguring the face of Jesus, it means removing the spine of grace from the Gospel, of the supernatural life; and reducing it to a manual of human wisdom. The apparitions of Our Lady calls us to a heart of faith, without which our lives would be subsumed by the logic of the world.
On May 13th of 2017, in the Cova de Iria, the Holy Virgin appeared to the simple, the Shepherd children, who live the beatitudes without presumption: God resists the proud, and offers himself to the humble. In Fátima everything happens in the light; the lightning, the light above the tree, the Miracle of the Sun, ... everything here is illuminated. Even the hardest words, and the most demanding messages illuminate the Faith, the life of the Church, and the history of the world.
Dear friends, the message of Fátima focuses on two words: Prayer and Penance! The way certain News is presented today, makes us believe that all is gloomy and there is no hope. But the reality is different: if we look at things more closely, we discover God in action. In the appeals of Our Lady, we have an elevated vision of life, of man, of history; we see that faith embraces all the horizons of existence. Nothing is left out of this light, and we are called to live in this light, and not to turn away from the authority of Christ, knowing that serving God is nothing more than letting ourselves be saved by God.
The prayer and penance that Our Lady recommends, are not a sad and sombre vision of the world and of life, but, to the contrary, they express the seriousness of the love that God has for us, who are the work of His hands. Superficiality, and the desire for possessions, and the seeking of pleasure, and the desire to do what we want with no reference to God, prevents us from seeing the beauty and seriousness of Divine Love. To love and to be loved, is as necessary to us as bread, but this is not a game: the Son of God loved us even to Calvary! The gift of life is the ultimate measure of love: giving a life is not poetry or something sentimental, but something incredibly serious, tragic. This is the Mystery of the Cross: what more could a God that loves do? The contemplation of the Crucified One, expels from us the indolence and lethargy, and awakens within us the ardour of Faith.
Without the mystery of the Cross, without the seriousness of this love, even sin loses its seriousness, and is reduced to a norm that that be turned around; the immortality of the souls ceases to attract us, eternal life becomes an abstract idea, the here and now dominates. The virtue of patience, or that is, the effort required to deal with the little things of daily life that irritate us, where conversion no longer has a religious face; where praying for the sinners, which we all are, appears to be something in the distance, almost an insolence. Thus we enter into the way of thinking of the world.
But the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the persistent patience of a Mother, always returns to preserve our faith and brings us back to the light of Jesus: "My Immaculate Heart will triumph", repeats Mary to the Shepherd children. But when? Certainly by the end of the world, when God will be all in all: it will be a glorious and visible triumph. But the Heart already triumphs, secretly in many hearts: it is the triumph of Bethlehem, of Nazareth, of Calvary ... it is a secret triumph, but no less glorious, no less fascinating, and no less effective.
Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco
Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe.
Watch video of the entire Prayer Vigil of the 100th Anniversary of June Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima here: