User’s Guide to Sunday
By Tom and April Hoopes

Sunday, May 9, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Liturgical Year C, Cycle II). It’s also Mother’s Day.

— On May 11-14, Pope Benedict XVI travels to Portugal to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the shepherd children who, with their cousin Lucia, saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

— On May 11, he will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Christ the King Shrine in Almada.

— On May 12, he will go to Fatima, where he will meet with priests and pray the Rosary at the Chapel of Apparitions.

— On May 13, he will say Mass on the esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. He will also meet with social and pastoral care organizations in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and with the bishops of Portugal.

— On May 14, he will say Mass at Porto before returning to Italy.

Fatima Children
Blessed Francisco and Jacinta were beatified by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. Their stories from the beatification ceremony are available here.

Included is Pope John Paul II’s advice to children who are inspired by Francisco and Jacinta:
“Dear boys and girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will take these clothes off and ... the little shepherds will disappear. They should not disappear, should they?! Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners.

“Ask your parents and teachers to enroll you in the ‘school’ of Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who tried to do whatever she asked them.”

He quoted St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary: “I tell you that ‘one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone.’ This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly. A woman who gave hospitality to Jacinta in Lisbon, on hearing the very beautiful and wise advice that the little girl gave, asked who taught it to her. ‘It was Our Lady,’ she replied.”

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29

Our Take
Today’s readings spell out exactly what the Church looks like, important lessons for us today.

First lesson: Christ founds a Church, not a Bible. Says Jesus in today’s Gospel: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Part of what the Holy Spirit will do is inspire inerrant Scripture. But he never says he will limit his action to writing a book.

Second lesson: The Church isn’t a club for perfect people. It’s a way of dealing with imperfect people.  The first reading tells the story of the “Council of Jerusalem.” At that council, “The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.” There was even a kind of encyclical letter written for them to deliver. The problem was that one set of Church leaders was saying the wrong thing, and the Church wanted to correct it. That’s often the reason for Church action nowadays, too.

Third lesson: The Church’s power doesn’t come from anywhere in this world, but from the next. The second reading describes the only real authority the Church has, in describing the city coming down from the sky: “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas.