Faithfuls urged: pray, repent, sacrifice
“Prayer, penance, and sacrifice.”
This was the message echoed by Msgr. Ruben Labajo of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral as the Catholic Church marked the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal.
Speaking to people who attended the 4 p.m. Mass at the Archdiocese of Cebu’s mother church on Saturday, the monsignor appealed to the faithful to carry out the message of the Our Lady of Fatima.
“If we want to please Our Lady, then listen to her and do what she tells us in the hope of renewing ourselves and living our faith,” he said in Cebuano.
Aside from praying, Labajo encouraged the people to offer sacrifices, not for themselves, but for God and other people.
“Are you willing to offer yourselves to God? Then be willing to sacrifice,” he said.
“Yes we pray, but when we are asked to offer sacrifices we have second thoughts and apprehensions of doing it. But we should understand that real devotion entails both prayer and sacrifice,” he added.
In Portugal, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.
He also canonized siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two Fatima shepherd children who reported visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917.
Francisco and Jacinta, aged 7 and 9 respectively, died two years after the 1917 apparitions in the Spanish flu pandemic.
Relics of the Catholic Chuch’s newest saints were venerated at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday alongside an image of the Our Lady of Fatima decked with white orchids, roses, and liliums.
The Marian image and portraits of Saints Francisco and Jacinta were brought out in a procession after the Mass along the streets in downtown Cebu City.
On the eve of Mother’s Day, Msgr. Labajo urged the people to honor, not just their biological mothers, but also Mary, the mother of Jesus and of humanity.
“At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusted us to Mary (through the apostle John). And so let us obey whatever the Blessed Mother asks us to do,” he said.
In her apparitions in Fatima, Labajo said the Blessed Virgin Mary had a concrete appeal to mankind: Prayer, penance, conversion, consecration to her Immaculate Heart, as well as adoration and Eucharistic reparation.
“All these are also what the Lord Jesus in the Gospel convey,” he said.
Jacinta was 7 years old and Francisco 9 when they first witnessed the Marian apparitions on May 13, 1917 along with their 10-year-old cousin, Lucia dos Santos.
While the Marto siblings died two years later, Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005. Efforts to beatify her are also underway.
Based on Dos Santos’ written accounts, the Blessed Mother appeared to them six times in 1917 in a field near Fatima where they grazed their sheeps.
In her apparitions, Mary identified herself as the Lady of the Rosary, and asked the three children visionaries to spread her call for conversion, reparation, and renewal of Christians all over the world.
She also asked that the mysteries of the Rosary be meditated and prayed daily for world peace.
The visits ended in October with the “Miracle of the Sun,” when others in Fatima at the time reported seeing the sun spinning in the sky which served as proof that the apparitions were authentic.
In 1930, the Catholic Church recognized the Marian apparitions in Fatima as authentic, and until now people flocked in greater numbers to the place to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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