"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Pope John Paul II
Church Is Called To "Put Out Into The Deep"
Eradication Of Poverty Requires Commitment To Social Justice
In Defense of Life: New Form Of Racism
Just a Few Thoughts
Eucharistic Congress Builds Faith
Light To The Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
The 42nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 17. The Pope's message for the Day, which was dated August 11, 2004, follows:
"'Duc in altum!' At the beginning of the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, I made reference to the words with which Jesus encourages the first disciples to let down their nets for a catch, which turned out to be a marvellous one. Jesus says to Peter: 'Duc in altum Put out into the deep' (Lk 5:4). 'Peter and the first companions trusted Christ's words and cast their nets' (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 1).
"This well-known Gospel scene can serve as the background setting of the coming World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which has the theme: 'Called to put out into the deep.' This is a special occasion for reflecting on the vocation to follow Christ and, in particular, to follow Him in the priesthood and the consecrated life.
"'Duc in altum!' The command of Christ is particularly relevant in our time, when there is a widespread mentality which, in the face of difficulties, favors personal non-commitment. The first condition for 'putting out into the deep' is to cultivate a deep spirit of prayer nourished by a daily listening to the Word of God. The authenticity of the Christan life is measured by the depth of one's prayer, an art that must be humbly learnt 'from the lips of the Divine Master,' almost imploring 'like the first disciples: "Lord, teach us to pray!" (Lk 11:1). In prayer, a conversation with Christ develops and it makes us His intimate friends: "Abide in Me and I in you" (Jn 15:4)' (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 32).
"The link with Christ through prayer also makes us aware that He is also present in moments of apparent failure, when tireless effort seems useless, as happened to the Apostles themselves, who after toiling all night, exclaimed: 'Master, we took nothing' (Lk 5:5). It is especially in these moments that one needs to open one's heart to the abundance of grace and to allow the word of the Redeemer to act with all its power: 'Duc in altum!' (cfr Novo Millennio Ineunte, 38).
"Whoever opens his heart to Christ will not only understand the mystery of his own existence, but also that of his own vocation; he will bear the abundant fruit of grace. The first fruit will be his growth in holiness, in the course of a spiritual journey which begins with the gift of Baptism and continues even to the fullness of perfect love (cfr ibid., 30). Living the Gospel without adding to it, the Christian becomes always increasingly capable of loving in the way that Christ loved, and welcomes the exhortation of Christ: 'You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Mt 5:48). He will commit himself to persevering in unity with his brothers within the communion of the Church, and he will place himself at the service of the new evangelization, to proclaim and bear witness to the wonderful truth of the saving love of God.
"Dear adolescents and young people, it is to you in a particular way that I renew the invitation of Christ to 'put out into the deep.' You find yourselves having to make important decisions for your future. I still hold in my heart the memory of the many opportunities I have had over the years to meet with young people, who have now become adults, some of them your own parents perhaps, or priests or religious, your teachers in the faith. I saw them, happy as young people should be, but also thoughtful, because they were conscious of a desire to give full 'meaning' to their lives. I came to recognize more and more how strong is the attraction in young people to the values of the spirit, and how sincere is their desire for holiness. Young people need Christ, but they also know that Christ chose to be in need of them.
"Dear young men and women! Trust Christ; listen attentively to His teachings, fix your eyes on His face, persevere in listening to His Word. Allow Him to focus your search and your aspirations, all your ideals and the desires of your heart.
"Now I turn to you, dear parents and Christian educators, to you dear priests, consecrated persons and catechists. God has entrusted to you the peculiar task of guiding young people on the path to holiness. Be an example to them of generous fidelity to Christ. Encourage them to 'put out into the deep' without hesitation, responding eagerly to the invitation of the Lord. Some He calls to family life, others to consecrated life or to the ministerial priesthood. Help them to discern their path, and to become true friends of Christ and His true disciples. When adult Christians show themselves capable of revealing the face of Christ through their own words and example, young people are more ready to welcome His demanding message, stamped as it is with the mystery of the Cross.
"Do not forget that today too there is need of holy priests, of persons wholly consecrated to the service of God! With this in mind, I want to repeat once more: 'There is a pressing need to implement an extensive plan of vocational promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools, and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on the essential values of life. These values reach their fulfillment in the response which each person is invited to give to God's call, particularly when the call implies the total gift of oneself and of one's energies for the sake of the Kingdom' (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 46).
"To you, young people, I repeat the words of Jesus: 'Duc in altum!' In proposing His exhortation once more to you, I think at the same time of the words which Mary, His Mother, addressed to the servants at Cana in Galilee: 'Do whatever He tells you' (Jn 2:5). Dear young people, Christ is asking you to 'put out into the deep' and the Virgin Mary is encouraging you not to hesitate in following Him.
"May an ardent prayer sustained by the motherly intercession of Mary, rise from every corner of the earth, to the heavenly Father to obtain 'laborers for His harvest' (Mt 9:38). May He give zealous and holy priests to every part of His flock. Sustained by this awareness we turn to Christ, the High Priest, and we pray to Him with renewed trust:
"Jesus, Son of God,
in whom the fullness
of the Divinity dwells,
You call all the baptized to 'put out into the deep,'
taking the path that
leads to holiness.
Waken in the hearts of
young people the desire
to be witnesses in the
world of today
to the power of Your love.
Fill them with Your Spirit
of fortitude and prudence,
so that they may be able to discover the full truth
about themselves and their own vocation.
Our Savior, sent by the
Father to reveal His merciful love,
give to Your Church the gift of young people
who are ready to put out into the deep,
to be the sign among their brothers of Your presence
which renews and saves.
Mother of the Redeemer,
sure guide on the way towards God and towards neighbor, you who
pondered His word in the depth of your heart,
sustain with your motherly intercession our families and our ecclesial communities,
so that they may help
adolescents and young
people to answer generously the call of the Lord.
Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stressed the importance of strong ethical values, including commitment to social justice, if the fight to eliminate poverty is to be successful.
Bishop Crepaldi was addressing the 43rd Session of the United Nations Commission meeting in New York on February 11. The Bishop stated:
"Almost 10 years ago the Secretary of State of the Holy See said in Copenhagen: 'A society which is not rooted in solid ethical values is a society without direction. It lacks the necessary foundation upon which the sought-after social development can be built and sustained. For this reason the Holy See is pleased to recognize that, right from the outset of the formulation of the Principles of the Declaration of this Summit, the commitment to promote a vision of social development which is "political, economic, ethical, and spiritual". . .has been emphasized' (Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Address at Copenhagen Summit, March 12, 1995, n. 3; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, March 15, 1995, p. 2).
"I would like today to confirm the validity of this affirmation in the specific context of the fight for the elimination of poverty. Indeed, this vision of development is close to the Catholic Church's conception of it as the integral 'development of each human being and of the whole human being' expressed by Pope Paul VI (Populorum Progressio, n. 14). It is the only view that can produce strategies for fighting poverty that respect human dignity.
We know that since then the vision of social development facing reality with a reasonable desire to be effective has lost this all-embracing quality. National leaders and experts, whether they work in academic or international institutions, have adopted an approach to the eradication of poverty that is based rather on the realization of quantifiable financial results.
"The perspective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) also largely reflects this; the goals are formulated on the basis of quantitative indicators.
"Now, if on the one hand precise and controllable indicators are part of the positive commitment of the international community in this sector, on the other, they risk concentrating efforts on the achievement of short-term quantifiable results to the detriment of the quality of the work for development, which requires instead the patience of sharing, education, and participation.
"It is true, moreover, that despite the success revealed by statistics in sectors of social development, such as, for example, the data for basic education, certain regions will not only fail to achieve the target of halving the number of their population that lives in dire poverty by 2015, the date established by the MDGs, but will not achieve it even in 150 years. This is especially the case with the Sub-Saharan African countries, whose per capita income has not increased in the last two decades of the 20th century: if the cause can sometimes be imputed to bad government, this is not always the case.
"As a qualified assertion states, some countries are ensnared by poverty: too poor to generate internal savings, hence, growth, they are also too poor to attract direct foreign investment, since they are devoid of infrastructures and human capital. If their development is to take off, they need what has been termed a 'big push' in public investments.
"It must be recognized that the international community is giving more and more attention to studying ways of giving these countries this 'big push,' but has not yet put them into practice.
"In Monterrey, the rich countries committed themselves to effectively bring public aid to development up to 0.7 percent of their Gross National Product (GNP). However, here too, it is necessary not only that this percentage be reached effectively and we are still far from it but that it be directed straightaway to the elimination of poverty.
"Indeed, half the current public aid that is spent on global public goods, such as, for example, the study of climate changes and the fight against terrorism or the pandemics, is earmarked for goods of undoubtedly vital importance but that have no direct impact on improving the living conditions of the poor or on opportunities for their development.
"Progress has already been made concerning the question of the international debt of the poor countries, and here too it is necessary to persevere in the efforts to find an equitable and lasting solution.
"However, it is in the area of new forms of financing that certain donor countries are truly giving proof of creativity and good will. The Delegation that I have the honor of leading makes the most of this opportunity to express its satisfaction in this regard.
"Initiatives such as the International Finance Facility or approaches through the expedient of the international tax authorities deserve to be more thoroughly examined with a positive and realistic attitude and, should the case arise, implemented with care.
"In fact, this 'big push' that the economies of the poor countries so urgently need must be supplementary, concessional, reliable, and regular, four indispensable requirements respected by the mechanisms I have just mentioned.
"Moreover, if this 'big push' is to be effective, it is necessary to establish in the recipient countries appropriate policies for public interventions that target all the sectors for which the governments are directly responsible, and at the same time, to ensure that there is an improvement in governance.
"To return to the starting point of my intervention, I would now like to stress that we are facing a real challenge: to work practically to achieve positive financial results to eliminate poverty and, at the same time, to safeguard the Copenhagen vision of social development.
"In this regard, therefore, I will make several suggestions, some more pragmatic and others that mainly concern the values and principles proper to the Catholic Church and her social doctrine.
"I would first like to emphasize that to obtain the desired result it is important that the MDGs be followed-up simultaneously. Simultaneousness in achieving them means, in fact, that the same importance and the same significance be given to all the aspects of community life.
"It then proves necessary to refine the means and methods of study of the dynamics of poverty. Indeed, these dynamics do not benefit from such perfected means as those for examining the state of poverty.
"One of the causes of this phenomenon lies, for example, in the virtual inability of underprivileged groups to make their voice heard. Endogenous institutions exist, either the village community or the enlarged family, that are not recognized in certain institutional schemas. Their possibility of participation is consequently very limited.
"What does their opinion count for in working out a strategic frame for the reduction of poverty?
"Ways and means must be found to enable the poor to participate in their own development. Only a social development that starts from the bottom will have strong and vigorous roots.
"Furthermore, if it is true that in recent decades it has been declared countless times that the eradication of poverty has become a moral imperative, one would advance towards its realization by considering it effectively as a primary global public good. In this way people would recognize the need for supplementary charges to deal with the phenomenon of free-riding that goes with the search to satisfy every public good, both national and international.
"Finally, all these suggestions will not bear fruit while one moral condition remains unfulfilled. This is the creation of an international sense of social justice, which still seems to be lacking. It is only in responding to the needs of social justice that it will truly be possible to stipulate and bring into force this 'world social contract' which was a concern in international circles after the Declaration of the Millennium or the Consensus of Monterrey.
"This requires going beyond the categories of 'common interest' or 'mutual benefit' that currently inspire policies for development aid or funding. It is precisely in this perspective that the necessary political will to give free rein to the forms of financing envisaged by the international tax authorities can be created.
"If in the immediate future and from a practical viewpoint it is reasonable to present these mechanisms as a tax system for funding, work must be done to have them recognized as an expression of international social justice that strives to re-establish equity between peoples. In addition, we must establish at an international level the goal proper to tax revenues and national public spending, that is, to be 'an instrument of development and solidarity' (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 355).
"In other words, even beyond national frontiers, those who have more, who have a greater portion of goods and common services, must feel responsible for the weaker and ready to share what they possess with them (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 39).
"Thus, we will take the path that leads to the realization of this 'world citizenship' conferred upon each and every one through their membership in the human family, of which John Paul II speaks in his Message for World Day of Peace this year (cf. n. 6).
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"And that's why I didn't want to have a lot of children," stated a mother of two children, who was herself one of 10 children. "We just didn't have a lot of things when I was growing up."
As we Americans grow more affluent, possessing greater wealth and material security than that of our parents, our fear of the child increases. Instead of welcoming a child as a gift from God, Americans worry about the expenses of raising the child that will be imposed upon them and the limits the child will place on their recreational activities.
Americans' so-called love of "the good life" created a mentality which welcomes contraception. Even though the Catholic Church has condemned contraception as an intrinsic evil, most Catholics still practice artificial contraception in order to protect their material well- being from the sacrifices a child would impose upon them.
Why does the Catholic Church teach that artificial contraception, for any reason or by any method, is a serious violation of God's moral law?
The Church has long recognized the "inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act." Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2366.
This was the beginning of the culture of death. Viewed now as a good, the intrinsic evil known as artificial contraception, encouraged people to view the conjugal act as one solely for sexual pleasure, which can be dissociated from the creation of human life. Once people accept an intrinsically evil act as being good, down a slippery slope they descend.
The acceptance and practice of contraception helps set the stage for the acceptance and practice of abortion. When a person practices contraception out of fear of the child, they become strongly tempted to accept abortion, when their form of contraception fails. The acceptance of one evil makes it easy to accept another form of evil.
In his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II warns of the obvious connection between contraception and abortion:
"The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception."
If one of the purposes of sexual intercourse in marriage is not to create a new life, then why is the sexual act limited to marriage?
If the sole purpose of the sexual act is for pleasure, why isn't any sexual act from which one derives some type of pleasure, such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, masturbation, etc., not morally acceptable?
So down the slippery slope we have now descended.
Now that we have accepted as good the conjugal act closed to procreation, it is now easy for our society to accept procreation without the conjugal act in marriage.
Americans have now come to accept the idea of in vitro fertilization (IVF), a method of artificial reproduction. The egg and sperm are combined in a petri dish, where fertilization then occurs. The tiny new human person, whose stage of life is referred to as an embryo, is then transferred into a woman's uterus where it will hopefully grow and be born.
Although IVF has resulted in infertile couples being blessed with a unique and precious gift from God, it does not justify the reality that many more human embryos are destroyed in the process.
Now that IVF is seen as a good, embryonic stem-cell research becomes the next logical development. Since most of the embryos resulting from IVF are discarded (killed), why not make use of them by removing the stem cells?
Although adult stem cells obtained from the patient himself have been proven to be effective in treating some diseases, the vast majority of funding for research is allocated to embryonic stem-cell research. As noted by Cathy Cleaver Ruse with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, have not helped one single human patient, and they come with a hefty price: the deliberate destruction of human life."
If it is morally acceptable to use embryos created through IVF, why shouldn't we just create human beings by other methods, such as cloning?
Cloning is a process where the nucleus is removed from an oocyte (egg) and a nucleus of a somatic cell (one taken from the person wishing to be cloned) is inserted. When the two cells are fused, the result is a person who is a genetic replica of the person who donated the somatic cell. The embryo can then be placed into a woman's womb until its birth. This is known as reproductive cloning.
On the other hand, with therapeutic cloning, the newly conceived child is experimented on or killed to extract stem cells.
Even though a new human life may result from reproductive cloning, the Church still teaches that this is an intrinsically evil act since it separates procreation from the conjugal act of marriage.
As explained by Catholics United for the Faith, in its publication, Lay Witness:
". . .cloning is an affront to the dignity of the individuals who result from cloning. Cloned individuals are deprived of the dignity of sonship, the dignity of being the fruit of the self-giving of a father and a mother.
"God intends human persons to be respected and loved for their own sakes; individuals reproduced through reproductive cloning, on the other hand, are brought into the world because they are replicas of another human being. They are perceived not as ends in themselves, but as mere instruments: They exist so that others can recall the persons from whom they originated and so that they can, in a sense, relive other persons' lives."
What is even worse is then we feel free to experiment upon these newly created lives, or to kill them solely to obtain their stem cells.
New Subcategory of Humans
Now we have a group of human beings whose origin is not only different than ours, but whose lives were created not for themselves, but for the benefit of someone else. Instead of a child being welcomed into life for the child's sake, we now find it morally acceptable to create a new class of individuals, whose very existence is brought about solely to serve the wants and desires of others.
No longer is each child, each person, recognized to possess an inherent right to life. Now there is available to the rest of us, a group of humans who have no right to life, but whose very existence is brought about to harvest its body parts.
At the 2002 UN Conference on Racism, the Holy See issued a warning of a "new form of racism": "artificial procreation, the use of 'superfluous embryos,' (and) so-called therapeutic cloning. . . could lead to the creation of a 'subcategory of human beings,' destined basically for the convenience of certain others."
From contraception, to abortion, to homosexuality, to in vitro fertilization, to embryonic stem-cell research, to cloning, our culture has descended down the slippery slope. Once any evil is deemed to be good, other evils are soon accepted as good.
(Editor's note: This article first appeared in Monthly Shopper and is reprinted with permission.).
"Play hard and have fun but remember, it's just a game." I saw this phrase on a poster in a gym and it made me think about all the places the philosophy could be applied. So let's share just a few thoughts about taking things too seriously.
It's pretty clear what the poster means in a gym; do the best you can do when the ball's in play. It also helps if you can squeeze some fun out of the time too. Sure, when you're looking for an open teammate you should concentrate on what you're doing. But why not try to enjoy the experience by talking to the other players on the court? That way, should your team lose the contest, you've at least had some fun. No matter who wins, everyone will get supper tonight and the sun will come up tomorrow, so relax.
What about using this idea at work? When you're on the phone with a customer, concentrate on their needs and how you can fulfill those needs. Pay attention to their account information and don't let your mind drift to other things. If possible, inject a little humor into the conversation. Be as friendly as you can so both you and your client come away from the exchange with a smile on your face. Then when the day is over, leave work thoughts at the office. Head home and think about your social obligations. It's just a job; they got along before you started working there and after you leave, they'll be okay too.
So now you're at home. When your spouse or one of your kids start to tell you about their day, listen attentively (play hard). Look for opportunities to laugh and smile (have fun). Don't get upset if you hear something that isn't to your liking. There are very few things in this world that are worth getting a headache over. In the big picture, most of our daily trials won't amount to much two weeks or two years from now. Loosen up.
On your car you're replacing a set of worn-out brake pads and things aren't going well. You're not too good at this type of thing, but you're just stubborn enough to save the $200 that a garage would charge for the service. While you're struggling with the caliper because it won't slide back on the rotor, remember, do the best you can and have fun; it's just a car. Try everything you know and when that's enough, laugh at your failure. Then pick up the phone and call Mark because he's your car guy and knows how to fix everything. The worst that can happen is that you have to have him put it back together, and other than making fun of you (again), all it will cost is a Coors Light or two.
My friend Joey D. says that most of us take things way too seriously in life. We need more of this play hard, have fun, and then get over it attitude everywhere these days. We need it in sports, in the classroom, at work, and mostly at home. Ninety-five percent of the things we think are important really aren't, so concentrate on the task at hand but be sure to enjoy the ride; it's just a game. Just a few thoughts.
by Michael Halm
Cincinnati's Archbishop Pilarczyk concluded the Eucharistic Congress at Good Shepherd, Cincinnati, on February 26 with, "If you liked today, you'll love New Bremen." The congress' third and final session will be held there at Holy Redeemer April 16.
Entitled "Do This in Remembrance of Me," the congress brings together 18 workshops on various aspects of the Eucharist, exhibits by local religious goods stores, and, of course, Jesus in the Eucharist Himself. "This is," the archbishop says, "an opportunity for the entire Church to grow in their love and understanding of the Eucharist and its importance in our lives."
"Getting the Most Out of Mass" was presented in Dayton by Rev. Jerry Chinchar, S.M., and will be presented again in New Bremen by Karen Kane. It is described as "practical suggestions for getting more out of the Mass through personal preparation beforehand," like reading the Scriptures with Presentation Ministries' own One Bread, One Body, "and practical explanations of how to participate more fully during Mass."
Among the workshops offered at all three locations, many focus on the Mass: "Eucharistic Spirituality for Sundays and All Days," "The Mass: Why We Do What We Do," "The Eucharistic Prayer: Praise of the Whole Assembly," "The Communion Rite: Dining in the Kingdom of God," "The Lay Person at Mass," "Setting the Table and Giving Thanks," "Becoming Welcoming Communities Amidst Diversity," and "Preparing Children to Participate in the Mass."
A couple are aimed specifically at teens: "Shake Off Those 'Boring Mass' Blues!" and "What's It All About, Jesus?"
Other workshops addressed: "Sacramental Speech: The Liturgy of the Word as an Encounter with the Lord," "Praying in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament," "The Liturgy in the World: How the Eucharist Compels Us to Clothe the Naked, Feed the Hungry, Liberate the Oppressed, and 'Ask Why!,'" and "Looking Toward the Future: The Dilemma of Fewer Priests."
Additional topics included: "Adoration and Its Connection to Sunday Eucharist" and "Preparing for and Living the Eucharist: Why and How We Are Eucharistic People" (only offered at the Cincinnati location).
In the second of these workshops Joyce Ann Zimmermann, C.P.P.S., tried to impart some of what she has learned about the Eucharist. As she explained, even with a doctorate and postdoctorate work specifically on the Eucharist, "there is always more."
Although the Word of God and the Church's prayerful response to God are important, "we need to hear God through other things than words," she says. The gestures such as opening and closing the Mass with the sign of the cross are full of food for meditation. The traditional design of the church with the altar at the East end and the exit at the West brings to mind Easter, sunrise, the Son's rising, the Son's return, and the mission out into the world that still does not know the Light.
Receiving the Eucharist in Communion, individually and communally, is another whole area for reflection. In this we are called, Sr. Joyce pointed out, to both action and passion. Catholics are invited by an altar call daily, invited to give ourselves unreservedly to He Who gave His all for us. We celebrate the Eucharist as a Church community and live it out in the secular community. We are also called to express our passion for and with the Eucharist in praise, thanksgiving, and adoration in and after Mass. God's gift to us is to be not merely receive the Eucharistic Christ.
To whom much has been given, however, much will be expected. She is not surprised, she says, that some are hesitant to say "Amen" to such a Gift. "It is not healthy," she warns, "if you want to hang on to your current lifestyle."
By our baptisms we were made a priestly people, a Eucharistic people. We are mediators between God and others, offering Him ourselves, our joys and sufferings, our prayers and those of our friends, family, and the world. By surrendering our lives so God can live in and through us, we can go ever deeper and deeper, be ever more truly who we already are.
We can do this, Sr. Joyce suggests, by examining ourselves every evening, asking, "How have I been Eucharist today?" Every Friday we can ask ourselves, "Did I do penance today?"
We can prepare for the Sunday liturgy by reading and praying the readings beforehand, by wearing our Sunday best, by making Sunday special (perhaps sharing a sundae?).
Anything we can do to enhance our understanding and living out the Eucharist will be good, because unlike the prodigal son who asked for half his inheritance, we have been given everything, the whole body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, far more than we had any right to, far more than we can ever know.
(A Christian Perspective on World News)
Fatima's Sr. Lucia Dies
Vatican City Pope John Paul II sent the following message to Bishop Albino Mamede Cleto of Coimbra, Portugal, on February 14, after learning of the death of Sr. Maria Lucia de Jesus of the Immaculate Heart, one of the children of Fatima. Sr. Lucia died at the age of 97 on February 13. The Pope stated:
"I learned with deep emotion that Sr. Maria Lucia de Jesϊs of the Immaculate Heart, at the age of 97, has been called by the Heavenly Father to the eternal dwelling place in Heaven. Thus, she has reached the goal to which she always aspired in prayer and in the silence of her convent.
"The liturgy of these days has reminded us that death is the common legacy of the sons and daughters of Adam but at the same time assures us that Jesus, with the sacrifice of the Cross, has opened the doors of immortal life to us. Let us remember these certainties of faith at the moment when we say our last farewell to this humble and devout Carmelite who consecrated her life to Christ, Savior of the world.
"The visit of the Virgin Mary which Lucia, as a little girl, received at Fatima in 1917 together with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta, was the beginning of a unique mission to which she remained faithful to the end of her days. Sr. Lucia bequeaths to us an example of great fidelity to the Lord and joyous attachment to His divine will.
"I recall with emotion my several meetings with her and the bonds of our spiritual friendship that grew stronger with time. I have always felt supported by the daily gift of her prayers, especially during the most difficult moments of trial and suffering. May the Lord reward her abundantly for her great and hidden service to the Church.
"I like to think that it was the Blessed Virgin, the same one whom Sr. Lucia saw at Fatima so many years ago, who welcomed her on her pious departure from earth to Heaven. May the Blessed Virgin now accompany the soul of her devout daughter to the beatific encounter with the divine Bridegroom. . ."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano weekly edition in English)
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com