• Church Life,  Events,  Mother of God

    Our Lady of Fatima

    Every 13th May, we celebrate the memory of a heavenly event which took place just outside a little village called Fatima, in Portugal. There, just over one hundred years ago, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young children – Lucia dos Santos (aged 10) and her cousins, brother and sister Francisco Marto (aged 9) and Jacinta Marto (aged 7). The appearances of Our Lady of Fatima, and the message She gave there, have been fully approved by the Church and declared to be “worthy of belief”. Now, this does not mean we are obliged to believe in them, nor even to have any interest whatsoever in them. But we ought…

  • Events,  Faith and Life,  Mother of God,  World View

    Refuge In Her Heart

    Although devoted to Our Lady of Fatima, for a great many years I could not really understand the call to “pray for peace” which seemed to form a core part of the message presented at Fatima in 1917. Certainly, I could understand the relevance of this call at the time Our Blessed Lady appeared there, when the First World War was taking place; and again, when another war – “a worse one”, as Our Lady described it – would break out two decades later. I could even understand the message had a place in the 1980s, when the threat of nuclear war was at least greatly possible. But then, “Russia”…

  • Church Life,  Mother of God,  Spiritual Devotions

    The Dowry of Mary

    Many years ago, at primary school in the south of England, we prayed a little prayer every morning in class which reminded the Blessed Virgin – as though She needed to be reminded – that England is ‘the dowry of Mary’. This ‘prayer for England’ included the words – O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in Thee. In England, devotion to the Mother of God is – and has been for many, many centuries – particularly strong and widespread. As a little child, praying this…

  • Church Life,  Mother of God,  Scripture

    Sorrowful and Immaculate

    I made this image some years ago in Rome, in the courtyard of one of the religious houses in the city. The statue depicts Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as She stood beneath the Cross of Her Son. I was struck by Her quiet dignity in that moment, suffering silently and partaking fully in His Passion and Death upon the Cross. In that moment, the prophecy of Simeon was borne out – “and a sword will pierce Your own soul, also” (Luke 2:35). It is because of the words of this prophecy of the holy man Simeon that we see so many depictions of Our Lady of Sorrows with a…

  • Faith and Life,  Mother of God

    Our Grand Desires

    As human persons, we often tend to have grand ideas for ourselves and about ourselves. This is no less the case for Catholics or Christians – we, too, are prone to this sense of ego. It’s one of the things Our Lord counsels us in the Gospels – that we must deny ourselves in order that we might be able to follow Him more perfectly. Love of self and the love of God (and neighbour) tend to be polar opposites. One always gets in the way of the other. Although every one of us is called to holiness, as we are reminded so very clearly by the Fathers of the…