Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima – from love to Love

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left. Father Robert’s talk refers to Lacrae’s ‘Blessings.’ (You Tube video above).

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Fatima Pilgrimage June 2017. All Rights Reserved

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Gospel – Jn 6:51-58
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Monument to the Fatima Seers. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org 2017

Reading 1 – Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima, Divine Mercy, and the Beatitudes

Basilica grounds, Cova de Iria, Fatima 2017. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

 

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left. (Set the volume to as loud as you can – the mike didn’t quite work on this talk).

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Fatima Pilgrimage June 2017. All Rights Reserved

FIRST READING – 2 Cor 1:1-7
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the Church of God that is at Corinth, with all the holy ones throughout Achaia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement,
who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.
If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation;
if we are encouraged,it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.

GOSPEL – Mt 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: The three shepherd children of Fatima

Photo credit:thespeakroom.org
The Angel of Portugal prepares the Fatima seers for Our Lady’s visits – 1916 Apparition.

 

 

 

 

 

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left.

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Fatima, Portugal 2017. All Rights Reserved.

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco’s Parish church and baptismal font
Photo credit:thespeakroom.org. Fatima, Portugal 2017
This cross miraculously appeared 100 years before Blessed Alexandrina’s birth. She is considered the fourth Fatima seer. When it appeared, it foretold of a martyr who would one day offer all her sufferings for the conversion of unbelievers.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa

Photo Credit: thespeakroom.org. Balasar, Portugal 2017

AUDIO: To listen, click on the triangle on the left.

SOURCE: Homily by Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. Balasar, Portugal Fatima Pilgrimage 2017. All Rights Reserved

(Fatima Pilgrimage organized by sweet and spirit-filled Caroline of Syversen Touring.)

Photo credit: thespeakroom.org. Blessed Alexandrina, Balasar Portugal 2017

Click on the links below for more information on Blessed Alexandrina:

Mystics of the Church: Blessed Alexandrin da Costa – Mystic and Victim Soul

A Tribute to Blessed Alexandrina – a miracle of the Eucharist.

 

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Fatima

On October 13th, Our Lady displayed the miracle of the sun, as she had foretold. During the last apparition that took place after that miracle, Our Lady showed herself as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as representative of the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The apparition had a tremendous impact on the 70,000 people who saw it, many of whom were reporters.

As for the historical context, at that time, atheism was thriving in Portugal, freemasonry had a strong hold on the government, and the people in the government thought that they were going to wipe out religion from Portugal for good, despite the fact that Portugal had a long history of being thoroughly Marian – their kings and queens had consecrated their land to Mary for centuries. These modern atheistic politicians thought that they were going to stamp out religion once and for all, hoping that Lisbon would be the second Moscow.

Mary’s greatest revelation took place at the same time of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Communism was just about to spread. There was the threat of nuclear war, as well as the threat of a totalitarian political system spreading; it did spread, throughout the world. Worst than that, it was a form of government that was anti-religion; it was anti-God.

Communism is an atheism of the will, in contrast to Darwin, who preceded Stalin, which was an atheism of the intellect. Darwinism tries to redefine the origins of humanity on rational terms, according to a particular scientific approach of the origin of the human species. And it ultimately breeds an atheism of the intellect, built on the belief that we can identify where we come from apart from any reference to God, solely based on reason and what we know of life in this world. Marx’s philosophy, however, was an atheism of the will, a deliberate and militant approach to combating religion, as being an obstacle to progress in society, a cause of war and division.

Marxism was being enforced as a political system and wedded to a government. Therefore, it was no longer legal to practice faith freely; people were unable to have bibles, to wear a crucifix around the neck, or go to church publically. The government had legislated churches, but they had control over them, and over what was said. There was a great deal of oppression that was based on a philosophy that was essentially opposed to God.

Mary saw all of this taking place from heaven. And as the first and most important missionary of God, in union with the Lord and in her will united to God’s will, she saw this danger on the rise, and chose to intervene and send a wake-up call to humanity as an echo of the gospel. Fatima is a call to faithfulness, for first of all, the believers.

Mary is the first person to have faith in God’s promise of her Son, as Savior. At the Annunciation, when she said ‘yes’ to God’s will that she would be the mother of the Messiah, she was the first to believe in the Messiah, as it was directly communicated to her by the Archangel, Gabriel.

The first to believe became the most important of all believers. As the first Missionary, she didn’t just receive that gift and keep it to herself. Right away, she went out of herself to share it with others. Even in heaven, after the drama of all that had unfolded in redemption, from the wood of the crib to the wood of the cross, to Pentecost and ultimately the Coronation, Mary was integrally interwoven with all the important events of salvation from the life of Our Lord. She was there, participating fully, in the most important events of Jesus’ life. Whether physically and immediately present, as at the foot of the cross, or in the manger, or amidst the apostles during Pentecost, or whether from a distance, participating spiritually, as in Jesus’ ministry, one way or another she was always there.

In the disposition of the handmaid of the Lord in the service of her son, and as the spouse of the Spirit and the daughter of the Father, she was there. And she continues to be there. She continues to be a mother who is in love with her children and who has a profound love for them. She cannot keep silent in the face of her children being in danger. When she sees her children in danger, she has to speak out, and she does.

Fatima is one of the most prophetic Marian apparitions, one of the most timely, and relevant for our day and age. From Pius the XIIth to most recently Pope Francis, and everyone in between, especially Saint John Paul II, with the assassination attempt on his life on May 13th, the day commemorating Our Lady’s first apparition, all of the popes of the past century have said how important the message of Fatima is to us still today. Pope Benedict XVIth and Saint John Paul II said that the message is even more applicable than it was in 1917.

What happened back then? On May 13 until October 13, 1917, our Blessed Mother appeared. Historically, this was right after the first World War and before the second World War, the most horrific wars in recorded history. Mary prophesied that if men did not repent and convert, there would be a far worst war than the first. And certainly, the events of the Holocaust and WWII were worst than those in the first World War.

In the horizon, she saw a possibility, that if people did not seriously change, something catastrophic would happen, just as God told the people of Nineveh through Jonah. Through the preaching of Jonah, the people of Nineveh did change and nothing happened, because there was a change of life, and therefore, a change of outcome. The accumulated consequences and the worsening sins of the people of Nineveh, didn’t catch up with them. At Fatima, Our Lady wanted to reach out to her children as loving Mother.

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Fatima Pilgrimage 2017, Braga

Editor’s note: From June 8-15, 2017 Father Robert Barcelos leads a pilgrimage to  Portugal for the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance to three shepherd children.  I will try to post audios of some of his homilies, along with transcribed talks from previous homilies that are relevant to Fatima and Marian devotion, so you can walk along with the pilgrims during this special anniversary. I pray that you experience healing and peace. – TL

Our Lady of Fatima, Braga Portugal. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

AUDIO: To play and listen, press the triangle on the left.

SOURCE: Braga, Portugal 2017. Shrine of Bom Jesus

Shrine of Bom Jesus, Braga Portugal. Photo credit, thespeakroom.org

 

 

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Our Lady of Fatima

The first time I went to Fatima, and this has never happened since, I walked into the square. When it is cold outside and when you go into a house as you open the door, a wave of heat just comes over you. When I walked into the square, a wave of Mary’s motherly love came over me, and it almost brought me to tears. It took my breath away. I felt the affectionate care of a mother. I’ve had a wonderful mother, and my upbringing helps me easily relate to Mary by nature. But what is so beautiful about God’s redemption is that He brings good out of everything.

Whether we’ve had difficulty with our relationships with our mother or our father, God can fill in the voids in our life – the absence, the neglect, whether through divorce, death, separation – God can fill those gaps with His love as Father, and His love as mother coming to us through Mary. As an instrument of God’s love for us, Mary helps us to know the maternal affection in a spiritual way that is specific for a woman to give. It is uniquely her, but it points to the divine.

Mary is at the heart of salvation history, biblically, and in our own time. We can understand this biblically through the lens of the simple word, ‘Woman,’ with a capital W. When Jesus uses that term, he uses it to identify Mary as the New Eve, just as Saint Paul identifies Jesus as the new Adam. What does this mean? A new humanity. God is starting over. He is giving us a way to be healed, to be set free, to be made new, through the New Adam and the New Eve, by baptism, through His life, death, and resurrection. We become regenerated, born again, receiving a new life and identity. As Saint Thomas Aquinas says, our dignity becomes super-elevated to share in God’s divine nature. We’re given a new destiny.

Jesus uses the term ‘Woman’ at very important moments – at the wedding feast at Cana, when we see the intercession of Mary among the disciples; we see that amidst this family celebration of love, at a moment of crisis, amidst this feast, was a dilemma. The disciples, in their dilemma, went first to Jesus’ mother and whispered their need to her. She simply made that need known to her Son and Jesus replies, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with me?’ This event is poorly translated in English and unfortunately, many Protestants poorly misinterpret Christ’s words as a sign of disrespect to Mary, almost as if Jesus or John the Evangelist foresaw that Catholics would one day “worship” Mary and this is the biblical proof, when only the Bible alone has authority, 1500 years later. That is an absolutely false theology.

Jesus doesn’t say “Woman” as a show of disrespect but as a show of exalted honor. In so doing, He says, ‘Mother, you are the New Eve. You are going to share with me in this mission, and if I manifest my divine identity, if I let who I am out by this miracle, then Calvary is just around the corner. It’s going to go down! Get on the roller coaster, and put on your seat belt, because the moment this miracle happens, it will all start. Are you ready for this?’ He says, ‘My hour has not yet come! The moment that I was born for, to give my life to save the world, the moment I manifest the miracle, that hour will be upon us. The enemy is going to be looming, and you’re going to be there with me. Are you ready?’

And He performed the miracle. What does Our Lady do? She nonchalantly returns to the disciples, not wanting the limelight, and very humbly, modestly asks them, ‘Do whatever He tells you. If you know what’s for your own good, if you know what’s in your best self-interests, if you want to spare yourself unnecessary suffering, if you want the recipe for sanctity, if you want happiness – do whatever He tells you.’

Sister Lucia, the only surviving visionary of the three Fatima children, and who later became a Carmelite nun, in her book, The Call to Fatima, says that ‘Do whatever He tells you’ is Mary’s only commandment. Her only commandment is seen in Cana. ‘Listen to Him,’ just as the Father said at the Baptism and the Transfiguration. Listen means obey, which means submit – in submission. Enter into His Mission for your life. That is the model of Mary’s vocation. She leads us to obedience and to a life of allegiance to Jesus. Her only desire is that we lead a life in allegiance to Jesus, not allegiance to her.

Father James Geoghegan, OCD: Stairs to the Risen Christ and St. Thérèse

Carmel

At the age of 15, Thérèse entered the Carmel in Lisieux. It was a poor convent, damp at times, and always cold in winter. She tells us that her little cell filled her with joy. Rising from the corridor where she lived, there was a circular staircase leading to the cell for the prioress, Mother Gonzague, whom she loved very much. As a young novice, Thérèse felt a deep attraction to her prioress; and she often tried to find an excuse to go to visit her. Perhaps she needed the attention and affection she had had back at home. Thérèse realized the danger of false affection; at times she had to hold onto the banisters to stop herself from going up those stairs. This heroic self-discipline bore rich fruit. Instead of being spoiled and dependent, her relationship with Mother Gonzague grew into a pure, strong love between two independent, respectful, mature women.

The love Thérèse had for the prioress is evident in the section of the autobiography written for her. When going through a deeply traumatic time after the difficult election of 1896, it was Thérèse who was able to comfort and strengthen the older woman. The battle with immature love on the stairway yielded a rich bounty later on.

Under Mother Agnes, Thérèse was practically the mistress of novices; and she lived with the novices upstairs in the Novitiate. This wing was on the opposite side of the quadrangle from where most of the community lived. On cold winter nights, the sisters gathered around the fire in the community recreation room. To go to her cell, Thérèse had to traverse the open cloister in the cold night air and climb the stair. She spent hours trying to sleep but was unable to do so because the cold went right through to her bones. As her tuberculosis developed, she suffered more from the freezing weather.

As she climbed the stairs, she must have offered the painful, breath-consuming steps for her beloved missionaries. Turning a bend in those stairs, she saw each time a saying boldly written over the window: “Today a little work, tomorrow eternal rest.” Though exhausted emotionally and physically and dragging her weakened body Thérèse could not accept that pious saying. For her, heaven was not eternal rest but, in the words that Florence Nightingale said at this time, “an immense activity.”

Elevator

Stairs were a fact of life for Thérèse. She used them as metaphors at various times. As her desire for sanctity grew, she sought a direct and easy way for little souls to ascend to God. She remembered an experience she and Celine had in Paris on their way to Rome. In a big department store, they discovered an elevator. One can imagine the excitement of two teenagers, tired from shopping and sightseeing, riding the elevator from floor to floor. They were fascinated by this new invention. Thérèse would find in the elevator a new metaphor for her little way. A weak child did not have to ascend to God by climbing the steep stairs. The elevator was the merciful arms of the good God, carrying the child aloft in confidence and love. Thérèse even wrote to her missionary brother, a man plagued with a sense of weakness and inadequacy, “Ascend the elevator of love, not the stairs of fear.”

Years after Thérèse’s death, her novice mistress, Sister Mary of the Angels wrote: Thérèse teaches and enlightens me. I ask her continually to help me enter her Little Way so that in death Jesus will truly be my elevator.

SOURCE: Carmelite Digest, Autumn 1997, reprinted with permission

Copyright 1997, Father James Geoghegan, OCD

Father James Geoghegan, OCD: St. Thérèse’s Stairs to the Risen Lord

By the end of her life, St. Thérèse had discovered an elevator to lift her up to heaven: the arms of Jesus. Before she found the shortcut, she had many stairs to contend with. Father James Geoghegan, OCD has visited some of the stairs in our saint’s life, climbed one of them, and meditated on all of them.

In April 1896, after climbing the stairs to her cell, St. Thérèse coughed up blood. It was the beginning of the end. At the same time, the brand new opera of Puccini, “La Boheme,” presented to the world a tragic romantic heroine. Mimí, dying from tuberculosis, enters the garret where Rudolfo asks her if she feels ill. “No, it’s nothing,” she says. “I’m just out of breath, it’s the stairs.” The fictional character and the saint would have understood each other.

Thérèse, throughout her life, had to climb stairs to go to bed. Today, a pilgrim visiting the shrines of St. Thérèse discovers that stairs played a significant role in her life and spiritual development.

Alencon

When you enter the house where Thérèse was born, ahead of you are the hallway and the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. The stairs rise in a high, steep, elegant curve. As a child, Thérèse tried to climb them. Later, she told her novices to keep persevering like a little child climbing a steep staircase.

In a letter to Pauline, Zélie Martin describes her daughter fearfully ascending those stairs “crying out ‘Mama Mama’” at each step. If Zélie forgot to say, “Yes, my child,” Thérèse would stop and not go any further. The steepness of those stairs would be frightening for a little child. Eventually, her mother would come and pick her up and carry her to the room upstairs.

Later, Thérèse saw this as an image of her life. Though she is weak and frail, God reaches down and carries her in his arms like a loving mother.

Each morning, Zélie came down those stairs to go to morning mass. When she became too weak from cancer to descend the stairs, she and her family knew that the end was near. Standing at the foot of the stairs, Thérèse, aged four years, saw the coffin for her mother. She died in the bed in which she had given birth to Thérèse. Zélie’s body was carried down the stairs and brought to the Church of Our Lady, where 19 years before she had married Louis and where Thérèse was baptized.

Lisieux

Three months later, Louis and the five girls moved to Lisieux where they rented the delightful “Les Buissonnets.” Thérèse loved this house, “For there my life was truly happy.” The house is charming, in lovely grounds. It is smaller than it appears in photographs. The kitchen and dining room are on the ground floor. A short staircase with angular turns leads to the bedrooms upstairs. On Christmas night, the almost 14-year-old Thérèse rushed up and down those stairs on her night of illumination, the night of her conversion, when she grew up and became a strong woman of the Lord. She had returned from Midnight Mass. In the middle of December, it is a cold time in Normandy. With Céline, she went up to their bedroom and they took of their hats and coats. Thérèse heard her father, who was not well and who was tired and cold at this late hour, complain that Thérèse was still acting like a spoiled child and it was time for her to grow up. She was hurt, but Jesus had changed her through the Christmas Eucharist. Jesus had done in a moment what she had not been able to do in ten years. Instead of weeping and feeling sorry for herself, she bounded down the stairs and, with the happy appearance of a queen showed her gifts to her father who soon regained his own cheerfulness. Soon everyone was happy celebrating the birth of the Infant Jesus and, without realizing it, the birth of Thérèse into womanly spiritual maturity (to be continued).

SOURCE: Carmelite Digest, Autumn 1997, reprinted with permission

Copyright 1997, Father James Geoghegan, OCD

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Easter Exodus of Love 4

The ongoing exodus experience, of conversion, is a true ecstasy, a coming out of ourselves in the discovery of God’s self, a greater love of the One who loves us. It’s a call for constantly having a renewed attitude of conversion. Sometimes, conversion has to be met on the level of our attitudes. The conversion of our heart, what’s going on in our heart, the emotions, the moods, all of these things, the thoughts in our minds, all of that is expressed in attitude.

From there comes disposition because when truth goes from the mind to the heart, it goes deeper and takes root in us; it becomes disposition, which is how I’m disposed towards somebody or something. Conversion of heart, as St. Paul says, means ‘being transformed by the renewal of our mind’ (Romans 12:1-2) that we may know what is God’s will and choose it. In other words, our attitude and our disposition enables us to go from what is good to what is pleasing and perfect; to go from good, to better, and to best; to not settle for less, to always strive to grow from the abundance of what God has and what God wants to give.

In order for us to do this, we have to have the right attitude, Mary’s attitude; the openness, the receptivity, docility that comes from surrender and humility and trust, and obedience. That’s the attitude that allows our souls to be cultivated and fertilized in order to bear fruit, and one that is so important for the conversion of heart. Saint Paul says that from conversion comes transformation, “an incessant moving forward.”

What you think when you hear that – an incessant moving forward? That excites and encourages me. In other words, God never becomes stale. God never becomes boring. Other things can become boring, but God doesn’t become boring. An incessant moving forward means what one great mystical theologian calls, the mystical evolution, an ongoing transformation, an incessant going forward.

According to St. Paul, we go ‘from glory to glory, from strength to strength.’ We’re always in a state of growth. In other words, ‘I don’t want to stay in the same stage of spiritual life for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be like the Israelites, going in circles for 40 years before going into the Promised Land. I want to be always growing in my relationship with God, knowing how God is alive in me and expresses Himself in my life. I always want to be growing in that love story and ongoing maturity,’ as St. Paul says, ‘to the extent of the full stature of Christ.’

What’s the full stature of Christ? Transfiguration, resurrection – that’s our destiny. When we see Christ risen and transfigured, it’s not only who He is in His divinity, but it’s who we are called to be, for we have been given a share into adoption through grace; that’s who we are in our deepest self, and that’s how we have to always be, in a state of moving forward and allowing God to come to fruition in us.

According to Pope Francis, “This liberating exodus toward Christ and our brothers and sisters also represents the way for us to fully understand our common humanity.” To hear and answer the Lord’s call is not a private and completely personal matter fraught with momentary emotion; it’s much deeper than that. Rather, it is “a specific, real, and total commitment which embraces the whole of our existence and sets it at the service of the growth of God’s kingdom.” Finally Pope Francis says, “the Christian vocation, [is] rooted in the contemplation of the father’s heart” – that’s his preface, but that’s so important.

Our first vocation is to worship God, to worship the Lord because that’s what the reality of heaven is. It is the festival, the fiesta, the celebration of worship, the exaltation, the human being fully alive in the glory of God. The Christian vocation rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest.

Pope Francis adds, “A disciple of Jesus has a heart open to His unlimited horizons.” We must allow our hearts to be open to Jesus’s limited unlimited horizons. This is what I hope and trust that the Lord Jesus is going to manifest to you according to your receptivity. According to your openness to His unlimited horizons, He will pour out His heart to yours.

Our exodus is up to us, but what makes us open? Faith and hope. As St. Therese says, confidence in His merciful love. If we have a little confidence, we’ll get a little from Him, but if you have unlimited confidence in the unlimited horizon of His heart you will receive a whole lot. May we be open to enlarge our hearts to God’s heart, and to gaze upon His face that me may receive an outpouring of his grace, in Jesus’s divine, most merciful, and most holy name, Amen.

SOURCE: Consecrated Life Retreat, New Mexico 2016, transcribed by Teresa Linda, ocds

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD