From the Pastor's Desk

October 15th

     On May 13th, 1917 three children were playing games in the field while tending their sheep. Their names were Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia Marta. Suddenly they saw a flash of light. Thinking it to be lightning, the children gathered the sheep and started for home. They took refuge under a tree about a hundred yards away. They saw a flash of light again. They began running when they saw, standing over a small Holm Oak tree, a Lady dressed in white. She appeared more brilliant than the sun.
     That was the beginning of the visions of Our Blessed Mother at Fatima. She visited the children six times bringing them messages for the world. In all Her appearances at Fatima, Our Mother repeatedly emphasized the necessity of praying the Rosary daily, of wearing the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and of performing acts of reparation and sacrifice.
     Our Lady's Message to the world is contained in what has come to be called the 'Secret'. The Secret actually consists of three parts, the first two of which have been revealed. The first part of the Secret was a horrifying vision of hell "where the souls of poor sinners go" and contained an urgent plea from Our Lady for acts of prayer and sacrifice to save souls. The second part of the Secret predicted the outbreak of World War II and asked for the Consecration of Russia as a condition of world peace. It also predicted the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart following Russia's consecration and conversion. A portion of the "Third Secret" was revealed at the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marta. It concerned the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians, and it described the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It was to be a neverending Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.
     According to the children’s understanding of the “Third Secret, the "Bishop clothed in white" who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (Bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire. This predicted the assassination attempt of Saint Pope John Paul II.
     On December 10, 1925, Our Lady appeared with the Child Jesus to Lucia and said: "Look, My daughter, at My Heart, encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful people pierce it at every instant with their blasphemy and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me with the practice of the First Saturdays."
     The Catholic Church has officially endorsed the Fatima Message as worthy of belief since 1930. Pope John Paul II has publicly credited Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life during the assassination attempt in 1981. The following year, he went to Fatima to give thanks for Her intervention.

O Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of the most holy Rosary, you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message. We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the Rosary. By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption that are recalled in the Rosary, may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

     We are often told to “Count our Blessings.” It is important for us to take an inventory of the “goods” we have received from God or others. This action helps us to live out of gratitude. While it is a consolation to receive a blessing, it is even more powerful to bless someone or something. Praying for God’s blessing on another is like stepping into a holy mystery. Imagine, our God gives us the ability to send His goodness to another. 
     Blessings began when the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.’ In this way they will put My name on the Israelites and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:22-27). 

    Which of the two did His Father’s will? One son responded with defiance, but later changed his mind. The other son told the father what he wanted to hear, but then was deceitful.
     The heart of the deceitful son was disordered. He allowed the ideas of what he wanted to desensitize him from the needs of others. The other son, who initially refused, allowed himself to have a change of heart.
     As we explore the process by which this son changed his mind, we can learn the process of discerning God’s will for us. When it comes to choosing a career, spouse or any important decision, God has much to say to us. Our God loves us so much that He wants to be a part of our decision making process.
     We call this kind of prayer, “discernment.” In order for our prayer to be authentic discernment, we must be free from the many ideas influencing our choices. We must be able to look at every side of the issue and hold them up to God.

    Over the weeks we have been hearing that the great power of the church is in forgiveness. Before the Lord, we are all the same. We are all sinners who are in need of healing from the Lord. While we might point to the differences between us, God sees all of us in the same way: We are His daughters and sons. God loves each one of us and calls us to the same gift: heaven.            
     In the parable of the land owner, not everyone recognizes the opportunity that the vineyard provides. Some people understand immediately and begin working early in the day. Others, for whatever reason, only notice the opportunity of the vineyard late in the day. The good news is that they have realized the vineyard.            
     At the end of the day, the people in the vineyard line up to be recognized for their efforts. However, the landowner chose to pay the last first. Those who labored all day were forced to witness the landowner’s generosity. Instead of rejoicing in the landowner’s generosity to the late comers, they complained that their reward should be greater. After all, they recognized the opportunity early in the day.