Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump meets Pope Francis

The day finally came.  New American president, Donald John Trump had the honor of meeting the Holy Father, Pope Francis; Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter.  At first, it seemed as if there was tension when both leaders met. Pope Francis is an avid advocate for immigrants, refugees and the poor.  Trump has been known to speak strongly against illegal immigrants, refugees and recently presented a budget that would cut billions to medicaid, welfare and other services that the poor rely on.

After the papal visit to Mexico, Pope Francis was asked about Trump. He said that those who insist on building walls instead of bridges are not Christian. Trump replied that it was unfair for a religious leader to place judgment on others. It is interesting to note that Pope Francis was probably not referring to Trump while on the plane since the question did not directly reference Trump.  In any event, the media and others online went into a frenzy when a photo of Pope Francis and Trump surfaced showing the pope with a "funeral face," as he often refers to it.  The pope is seen next to the US present with a sullen expression.  Immediately, tweets began to fly on Twitter comparing photos between the pope and other world leaders today's photos with Trump.  Photos with a smiling pope were chosen for the comparison for obvious reasons.

Other ignorant "right wing" advocates took to twitter to attack the pope by calling him a Marxist and erroneously claiming that the Vatican has walls in an attempt to make the pope look like a hypocrite for speaking against them  The pope and president exchanged gifts.  Trump vowed to do more to promote peace after meeting the Holy Father.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fatima 100 Year Anniversary: Jacinta & Francisco Canonized!

The day has finally come.  One hundred years ago in 1917, a course of events changed the world. Our Lady, the Mother of Christ appeared to three shepherd children. She would appear to them on the 13th of each month from May to October.  In October, the supernatural event of the "dancing Sun" took place which was witnessed by hundreds of thousands, including atheists, scientists and reporters from major news companies such as the New York Time.

Avelino de Almeida of the O Século newspaper was a witness to the event. The O Seculo paper was known as anti-religious. Almeida wrote that the sun defied all known cosmic laws.  You can read more about the apparitions in my post:

Pope Francis visited Fatima, Portugal for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions by Our Lady.  He led prayers, invoked Our Lady's intercession and protection.  Today, he canonized two of the young children, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto; cousins of Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three.  This was his homily:

"'[There] appeared in heaven a woman clothed with the sun'.  So the seer of Patmos tells us in the Book of Revelation (12:1), adding that she was about to give birth to a son.  Then, in the Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciple, “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27).  We have a Mother!  “So beautiful a Lady”, as the seers of Fatima said to one another as they returned home on that blessed day of 13 May a hundred years ago.  That evening, Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: “Today I saw Our Lady”.  They had seen the Mother of Heaven.  Many others sought to share that vision, but… they did not see her.  The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her.  We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to heaven.
Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures.  Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell.  Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us, for, as we heard in the first reading, “the child [of the woman] was snatched away and taken to God” (Rev 12:5).  In Lucia’s account, the three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady.  She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her.  According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of Light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth.  We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: “show unto us… Jesus”.
Dear pilgrims, we have a Mother, we have a Mother! Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus.  As we heard in the second reading, “those who receive the abundance of the grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17).  When Jesus ascended to heaven, he brought to the Heavenly Father our humanity, which he assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and will never forsake.  Like an anchor, let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father (cf. Eph 2:6).  May this hope guide our lives!  It is a hope that sustains us always, to our dying breath.
Confirmed in this hope, we have gathered here to give thanks for the countless graces bestowed over these past hundred years.  All of them passed beneath the mantle of light that Our Lady has spread over the four corners of the earth, beginning with this land of Portugal, so rich in hope.  We can take as our examples Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta, whom the Virgin Mary introduced into the immense ocean of God’s light and taught to adore him.  That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering.  God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle.
In her Memoirs (III, 6), Sister Lucia quotes Jacinta who had just been granted a vision: “Do you not see all those streets, all those paths and fields full of people crying out for food, yet have nothing to eat?  And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary?  And all those people praying with him?”  Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being here with me!  I could not fail to come here to venerate the Virgin Mary and to entrust to her all her sons and daughters. Under her mantle they are not lost; from her embrace will come the hope and the peace that they require, and that I implore for all my brothers and sisters in baptism and in our human family, especially the sick and the disabled, prisoners and the unemployed, the poor and the abandoned.  Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to God with the hope that others will hear us; and let us speak to others with the certainty that God will help us.
Indeed, God created us to be a source of hope for others, a true and attainable hope, in accordance with each person’s state of life.  In “asking” and “demanding” of each of us the fulfillment of the duties of our proper state (Letters of Sister Lucia, 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia.  We do not want to be a stillborn hope!  Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).  The Lord, who always goes before us, said this and did this.  Whenever we experience the cross, he has already experienced it before us.  We do not mount the cross to find Jesus.  Instead it was he who, in his self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us, and to bring us back to the light.
With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter.  Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love."

The Catholic Church celebrates this canonization. Approval for the canonization came when it was confirmed that a Brazilian boy was cured from a severe brain injury.  Lucas had a nasty fall which caused severe trauma to his brain.  Doctors told his parents that he would not survive.  If he did survive, according to doctors, he would be severely mentally handicapped or would be in a vegetative state. However, after Carmelite nuns prayed to the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco, the boy recovered. He woke up from his coma as if nothing happened.  To date, he is doing well and shows no signs of physical or cognitive ailments.

Both St. Francisco and St. Jacinta have so much to offer to all of us, especially children and young people in the Church. It is possible to be a saint, even in today's trying times. The apparitions of Fatima remind us that God always prevails and that He is merciful and pours grace upon the world. We must seek Him always; and with the help of Our Lady, we will be successful! As an atheist, the apparitions of Our lady of Fatima was my first real exposure to Marian devotion. Grateful to Mary always for my faith.  I remember learning about them via my friend and beloved pastor, Bishop Francisco and EWTN.  From there, I did my own investigations, read books on the topic both pro and against the apparitions.  I found them to be credible based on my research.  Our Lady tugged my heart closer to her Son and His Catholic Church.  I am always grateful for her.   I am sure you reading this have your story to share and I would love to read them.  Feel free to post below in the comments section.

Many people are often caught up on the secrets of Fatima and chastisements.  While these are important to know as admonitions, we must focus on the real message. God loves us and our sins hurt Him and Our Lady.  We must amend our lives and do better.  We must change this world.  Our Lady spoke out against the errors of Russia, namely Communism which is rooted in atheism.  As a former atheist, I dedicate a lot of time countering the atheist errors that are recycled today in social media.  I even wrote two books criticizing atheism.  One is for teens/adults and the other for children.  You are welcomed to purchase them and learn how to refute atheism and prevent it from growing in your children.

Adult version

Children's version

Atheism is a poison of the mind, heart and soul.  It denies all truth and gets a person caught up in an endless cycle of skepticism that leads to absurd claims.  Pope Francis warned the people at Fatima that living a godless life is dangerous. It can lead one to hell.  As a former atheist, I argue that atheism on earth is like living in hell.  To live life denying everything and never opening the mind to belief via reason is hell.  Skepticism is okay; however, it becomes a poison when it leads to endless denial and a contrarian position that never gives up creating excuses not to believe.  

For example, if someone tells me that they saw a cat jump and I reply that I did not see it so it did not happen, then I can be partially correct in that statement.  Perhaps it did not happen and the person is lying to me. However, if the person shows a photo to me of the cat jumping and I say that maybe the photo is edited or "photo-shopped," then my statement may be correct but improbable.  I would need to experiment on the photo to see if there are signatures on it that show editing.  Lastly, if the person shows me video of the cat jumping and I say the video is edited, the statement becomes even more improbable.  If I continue to deny the event of the cat jumping, then my skepticism becomes absurd and irrational.  

This is the danger atheism poses in the person who subscribes to it.  Once a person lives just to deny supernatural or religious concepts without equal to or greater than evidence that supports his or her denial, then this denial becomes irrational and borderline mental illness.  As a graduate of the sciences, I am obliged to rely on facts and evidence in order to accept things.  Nothing in the Fatima story, to me, presents an obstacle to belief or credibility.  For an atheist to continue to deny things, while claiming to love science, hurts science.  He or she mocks the scientific process.  Science seeks answers, not endless denial.

Congratulations to Portugal, Jacinta and Francisco on this great day!  May they and Our Lady of Fatima pray for us still struggling on earth.   



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