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Bishop Paul Sirba: Anniversary of Fatima invites our Marian devotion

On May 13, 2017, our Holy Father Pope Francis will travel to Fatima, Portugal, to canonize Francisco and Jacinta Marto on the apparition’s centenary. Hopefully, you will be able to follow the glorious events. As a newly ordained priest, I had the privilege of going on a pilgrimage to Fatima.

The message of Fatima, I think, is as important today as it was in 1917. Like all “private” revelations that have been recognized by the authority of the Church, Fatima does not belong to the deposit of faith, but it helps us to live the faith more fully in our own time. The message of Fatima does not somehow improve Christ’s saving message found in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, but it helps us to live it. Check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 67.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

It is remarkable in our age such young children will be canonized by Pope Francis. Francisco Marto died at age 10, and his sister Jacinta died at age 9. They became saints at the ages of fourth- and fifth-graders today. Their lives reveal heroic love of Jesus. They willingly embraced lives of prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners. Their example is staggering to a world obsessed with pleasure and selfishness.

It seems we greatly underestimate what our children are capable of. The fact that God chose to show them a vision of Hell — yes we still do believe in Hell as a place of eternal separation from God — and did not spare Sts. Jacinta and Francisco the truth about the possibility of losing one’s soul or the need to pray for sinners should cause us to examine our own consciences. Our Lady stood with them throughout and gave them hope.

Today kids play games, watch videos, or live in countries with violence as hellish as what Francisco and Jacinta saw, yet without hope, meaning, or realization of the help of a loving mother.

Our Lady of Fatima encourages us to pray the rosary every day. She offers us the five First Saturdays and devotion to her Immaculate Heart, so as to lead us to Jesus.

Around our diocese the celebration of the centenary of Fatima will take place in a variety of ways. Please consult your parish and The Northern Cross for events and times. On Saturday, May 13, an image of Our Lady of Fatima will be venerated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary here in Duluth. We will have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament beginning at 10 a.m., followed by the rosary, confessions, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at noon.

Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to be gained under the usual conditions for the centenary of the Fatima apparitions, from Nov. 27, 2016 until Nov. 26, 2017. For those unable to make a pilgrimage to Fatima, the faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in any church or oratory during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of each month from May to October 2017) and participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary obtain the indulgence. In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed, and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.

We love our mother, Mary! She always leads us to Jesus. Devotion to her is an essential part of a healthy spiritual life. The month of May and the year’s centenary of Our Lady of Fatima gives us great hope. Sts. Francisco and Jacinta, pray for us.

Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.