This week on Register Radio, Dan Burke and theologian Father Fred Miller discussed Mother Mary’s role in the spiritual life. Later in the show Dan spoke with Sister Angela Coelho about the cause for canonization for the children of Fatima, Blessed Francisco and Jacinta.
Mary’s Role in the Spiritual Life
Father Fred Miller is well known for his scholarly presentations on Mariology. His current position is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.
The practice of having the month of Mary dedicated to Mary began in the 13th century, as a way to convert some secular feasts to Christian ones. It grew in popularity in the Jesuit order in the 17th century.
“I’ve always thought that May is Mary’s month because in my experience living on the east coast in the United States, May is probably the most beautiful month. Everything is in bloom, the winter is past, and the weather is perfect. So that reflects the beauty of Our Blessed Mother and helps us to think of that beauty,” Fr. Miller said.
May is also right after Easter, Fr. Miller pointed out, and usually during the Easter season. We honor her on Saturdays, because of her faith after the Resurrection.
“Many people think that devotion to Mary is going to take away from devotion to Christ,” Fr. Miller said. However, he said, she doesn’t get in the way of that devotion. “We don’t worship Mary, we give her the highest honor…because she is the mother of Christ. Our devotion to her doesn’t distract us from devotion to Christ, but rather centers us on him.”
When we’re baptized, we’re incorporated into Christ, and become a part of him. We begin to not only love his father and his mother, but his other children too. Loving Mary is a natural result of this life in Christ.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe used to teach that it’s not possible to love Mary too much; you only love Mary too much when you love her more than Jesus does.
The Church is very clear in that we never worship Mary. We venerate her and respect her because she is the Mother of God.
“Do something very simple [this month],” Fr. Miller advised those who struggle with Marian devotion, “Find a picture of Mary and everyday just spend some time with that image of Mary telling her about the day. Tell her what happened today. Tell her pain that you have today, [and] sorrow. Tell her about joys of the day. Just start a friendship with her.” If you have trouble relating with Mary as your mother, try relating to her as a fellow believer in Christ and Christian or as a sister.
For those who already know Mary and have a friendship with her, Fr. Miller advised the rosary as a devotion in which Mary brings us directly to Jesus. He mentioned wearing some sign of Mary, such as a Miraculous Medal or a scapular.
There are many, many Marian prayers, Fr. Miller pointed out. He mentioned that the Litany of Loreto is a prayer that honors Mary under different titles and can be a way to draw us closer to her.
Real Men Pray the Rosary is an apostolate that helps teach people to pray the rosary, and especially men.
For more about May as Mary’s month, see the great information at Catholic Culture.
Blessed Francisco and Jacinta
Sister Ângela de Fátima Coelho is a religious sister from the Congregation of Aliança de Santa Maria, and a medical doctor.
She was born in Portugal and lived in Porto, where she attended high school. She graduated in Medicine from the University of Porto, in 1995, and taught in its Faculty of Medicine. She joined the Congregation of Aliança de Santa Maria in 1995. In 2008, she graduated in Religious Sciences from the Pontific University of Comillas, in Madrid.
She practices medicine in the Hospital of Leiria and in the Continuous Care Unit of Batalha. She teaches Theology in the Center of Formation and Culture of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima.
In 2004, she was nominated assistant Vice-Postulator for the cause of Canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, with the right of succession, and came to be nominated Postulator extra urbemon in 2009, then Postulator in urbe in 2012. She joins us to discuss the cause of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Our listeners know them well as two of the three children of Fatima.
Sister Ângela shared the story of Jacinta and Francisco and the miracles that happened in Fatima. This is a unique cause for canonization, she said. Jacinta and Francisco are the youngest blesseds in the history of the Church who are not martyrs.
“Prior to [Jacinta and Francisco], it was not possible [for the Church] to canonize or beatify anyone less than 16 years old who were not martyrs,” said Sister Ângela. Their example has forced the Church to consider that children can practice heroic virtue, thus justifying canonization.
Three key elements in their lives are prayer, sacrifice, and commitment for others. Little Jacinta and Francisco, Sister Ângela said, represent the entire message of Fatima. Francisco, for example, was completely centered on God and in God. He was the little consoler of Jesus on earth and in heaven.
Jacinta had a different heart and approach, and Sister Ângela said that her spirituality was completely committed to what Our Lady showed them, including the suffering of the Church and the suffering in Hell. She kept all these intentions in her heart and became a great intercessor for peace in the world, the Holy Father, and the suffering of sinners. She made sacrifices for those intentions and when he beatified her, Pope John Paul II thanked her publicly.
Sister Ângela shared the history of the process and cause for Francisco and Jacinta’s canonization. They’re looking for a second miracle to be declared for their canonization to take place. She added that she’s also asking people to pray for the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta. That involves praying in a specific way for their intercession (which can be found here).
Sister Lucia, who was the third of the children at Fatima, didn’t die as a child, but lived and died as a Carmelite nun. Her cause is completely separate.
Learn more about the cause for Blessed Francisco and Jacinta and find the text of the prayer Sister Ângela shared at the official website.
Listen to this week’s show online or on your mp3 player.