Pope Francis blesses the candles on the plain filled with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and emphasizes that "if we want to be Christians, we must be Marian." Not the "unreachable lady," but the "Master of spiritual life, the first one who followed Christ along the "narrow way "of the cross. The Mass celebrated by Card. Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.
Fatima (AsiaNews) - "May each of us become, with Mary, a sign and a sacrament of the mercy of God who always forgives, forgives everything”, said Pope Francis almost at the end of the greeting that he addressed the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Fatima, where he arrived in the afternoon, to mark the centenary of the apparitions.
After a moment of silent prayer and meditation, the pontiff blessed the candles and turned to light his own from the Paschal Candle. And while the candles were lit up among all those present, he expressed some thoughts marked by the urgency of the mission through a "revolutionary force of tenderness and affection."
He first said that he, the Pope, carries "everyone in my heart. I feel that Jesus entrusted you to me and I embrace you all and entrusted you to Jesus, "especially those most in need" - as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July 1917).
"She," he continued, " May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord’s blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ"
He then recalled a phrase by Paul VI: " if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him."
The Pope suggested how to make Marian devotion true. "Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the “narrow way” of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady “unapproachable” and impossible to imitate? A woman “blessed because she believed” always and everywhere in God’s words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a “plaster statue” from whom we beg favours at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us? Great injustice is done to God’s grace whenever we say that sins are punished by his judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by his mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy. "
" Hence, in the faith that unites us to the cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). “Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves… This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization” (Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 288). With Mary, may each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything. "
And he concluded with a re-reading of the Magnificat, entrusted to every believer: " Hence, in the faith that unites us to the cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). “Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves… This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization” (Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 288). With Mary, may each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything. ".
The Pope then participated in the praying of the rosary, prayed in different languages.
At the end of the rosary, the Pope passed through the crowd. Soon after, the Vigil Mass for the feast was celebrated presided over by Card. Pietro Parolin.
Francis was welcomed to the Marian shrine by tens of thousands of people. A prayer that also announces the gospel proclamation, tearing down all walls and crossing every frontier, going out “to all the peripheries, to make known God’s justice and peace".
Nearly a million people witness the canonization of the two children, the youngest in Church history to climb to the glory of the altars without being martyrs. “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".
In his video-message to the TED 2017 conference, Francis said that scientific and technological progress must not increase the gap between nations and peoples. Instead, the pontiff calls for a "revolution of tenderness", which is "to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future." He too “was born in a family of migrants” and “could have very well ended up among today’s ‘discarded” people’.” Hence the question, “deep in my heart: ‘Why them and not me?’”
The canonisation will take place during Francis's trip to Portugal. Francisco and Jacinta Marto will be the first children in the history of the Church to be proclaimed saints without being martyrs.