The Message of Fatima, by Sister Lucia dos Santos, the famous Fatima seer -- her very last writings on spirituality as related to one of the most famous mystical events of the past 2,000 -- her take on the essence of life, of God, of what we all need to do, of why Mary came to Fatima, and what the Blessed Mother, with her Son, left for us and our posterity; her last testament and a little guide for all of us as we search for our missions and duties in this life. click here 


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ABOUT THE POPE: IT'S TOO EARLY TO PUT LABELS ON HIM, IF LABELS EVER WILL FIT A DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE PONTIFF

We will learn much more about Pope Francis later this year, when he visits the United States, where he is almost certain to make intriguing remarks during the trip or in transit, and at the conclusion of the official Synod the following month, during which family issues such as divorce and Communion and homosexual marriage and the like will be discussed, or at least the Church's way of handling gays.

Many are confused as to how to perceive him. Is he liberal? If so, why the recent statements against gay marriage and transgenders? If he is conservative, why all the railing against the size of families, or at least seeming railing ("rabbits"), and against exploitation of the ecology (which both liberals and conservatives should join forces against)? Does speaking against destruction of God's Creation (setting aside that whole "global warming" thing, which in a political way has become toxic) make him a liberal?

Perhaps all the back and forth is due simply to his interpretations of the call of Jesus -- Who would be dismissed out-of-hand by today's liberals and conservatives.

Progressives would have seen Jesus as a harsh judgmental traditionalist type who taught against immorality and foresaw chastisement (see Mathew 24).

Traditionalists, for their part, might have seen him as an overly tolerant person -- a liberal -- when He told us not to judge others (and dared folks so inclined to throw the first stone).

Liberals would have seen Jesus' claim to miracles as anti-scientific, fanciful, immature; as quaint.

Conservatives would have seen what the Good Lord said about mammon (money) -- and the request for the rich man to give it all up -- as "socialism."

Which is it, with Francis?

Or is it neither?

Perhaps he is not "liberal" or "conservative."

Again, no one yet knows. Is it even correct to label a Pope as one or the other?

Perhaps he is first "Catholic" (Christian).

We don't know yet, and one cannot judge everything by the constant paroxysms and quip-streams that emanate from our Holy Father -- sometimes in a way that disconcerts, perhaps, like birdshot, while at other times it invigorates. There are also cannon balls. It is bracing.

It is also: engaging.

For certain: it is not the stultification that comes from overly nuanced and pedantic theology and logorrheic style that have been smothering the Church (and leaving full berth for evangelicals).

Recently Pope Francis quoted his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, in calling money the "devilís dung." 

That's fairly easy to comprehend. "When money becomes an idol, it controls manís choices," he said. "It makes him a slave."

In other words, he cuts to the chase -- but in other words, too: he often speaks in a clipped phraseology we are not accustomed to hearing, sporadic exhortations familiar to those in South America, and often in ways that may not form complete viewpoints (or sentences).

There are legitimate concerns about remarks such as those in recent says about Mexico (when, warning about the drug trade, he warned Argentina against the "Mexicanization"; don't need to alienate Mexico!).

In other words: he is chatty -- as if we're sitting in his living room (if he had a living room) and we're not used to someone on the Throne of Peter speaking like everyone else (as perhaps Peter, a fisherman, did).

We'll find out more soon. No one can say they really know former Cardinal Bergoglio, as yet. One can vet (and fret) but one cannot yet come up with a smoking gun.

Will it come during the visit to the U.S.? And after (or during) that Synod?

Or will it come before?

Stay tuned.

As they say: never a dull moment.

And frankly: being jolted now and again if in the right way can be a good thing.

[resources: Spirit Daily announces pilgrimage to Fatima, Avila, Lourdes]

[see also: Michael Brown retreat at Betania II, Medway, Massachusetts]

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