In addition to this, the Fatima shrine has also offered special catechetical themes for parishes focused on the visit of Pope Francis.
The staff of the diocese is currently divided into different working groups that focus on practical preparations such as protocol and logistics, including the details of the papal delegation and the swath of journalists who will travel with the Pope.
Ultimately, the Pope’s visit to Fatima for the centenary of the apparitions will help “to rediscover the richness and beauty of this message for our time,” the bishop said.
The message of Fatima, he said, refers to “the greatest, most tragic events of the 20th century.” Namely, the two World Wars, “with their genocides, millions of innocent victims,” and the persecution at the hands of atheist and totalitarian regimes, which threatened to destroy the Church from view.
“So it was a message of grace, to say that God is with us, he doesn’t abandon us, the mercy of God has a higher limit than the power of evil, and a message of peace,” Marto said. “These three words are the gift Our Lady brings: grace, mercy and peace.”
Our Lady’s appeals for conversion, prayer and reparation are also very timely, he said, noting that even in contemporary society, at times we forget “to make reparation for what was spoiled.”
Using new technologies as an example, he said that today if something we own breaks, we toss it and get a new one, “but you can’t repair the heart like this, throwing it out of the chest.”
“The heart, relationships with others and among people, need reparation, need renewal in the sense of rebuilding, renewing; of re-making even the relationships with God and others,” he said, warning that “sometimes in front of evil, we feel powerless, and there’s a sense of resignation.”
Mary, the bishop said, came “to look for collaborators in the merciful design of God before the power of evil,” which makes her message extremally relevant today, because while there might not be as much persecution from atheist regimes, “there’s the danger of something, in my view, that’s worse: religious indifference.”
“To live as if God didn’t exist. To live with your back to God. The sense of God is lost, and when one loses the sense of God, they also lose the sense of humanity,” he said, explaining that because of this, “the message (of Fatima) is always relevant.”
Bishop Marto also spoke on the coming canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who will be canonized May 13 during Pope Francis’ Mass at the Fatima shrine, marking the first time in the history of the Church that a child who is not a martyr has been declared a Saint.
(Story continues below)
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“The canonization of the shepherds is a gift,” the bishop said, explaining that the holiness of children is “one of the most beautiful fruits of the apparitions.”
With her initial invitation to the children to “offer yourselves to God in reparation for the sins of the world” and her promise later to Lucia, who became a nun, that “I will never leave you, my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge,” Mary accompanied the children on their entire path to holiness, he said.
“The Madonna guided the children, the shepherds, on this path of holiness. So I think it will be very beautiful for the people to be able to pray to these two saints.”
When asked what Francisco and Jacinta can teach the world today, Bishop Marto said their witness is one of “everyday holiness...they are an example of the holiness of the people, accessible to everyone, to all ages; children, adults, men, women, teenagers, etc.”
They also show us how this holiness is lived with different personalities, he said, noting that while Francisco was more contemplative and united to the suffering experienced by Jesus due to sin, Jacinta was more compassionate and concerned with the salvation of others.
“Francisco was fascinated with the mystery of God, the beauty of the mystery of God, the beauty of the goodness of the love of God that remained inside of him,” the bishop said, explaining that during his time in adoration, Francisco saw the sadness of God due to the sins of the world and chose to accompany him “for hours of praying, meditating, contemplating.”