Behold, I make all things new

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Revelation 21:5

As our time of COVID19 quarantine continues, the vision of a post-COVID19 world becomes more and more a mystery. While we hear that people are anxious to get back to normal, there seems to be a consensus that what awaits is a “new normal”, one that has not yet become clear. Hope is essential in the face of this unknown.

Like that of His disciples, our Christian hope comes first and foremost from our intimate relationship with Jesus. It is the hope that God’s will be done. God’s will is, of course, for us to be united to Him, so our primary concern is for the salvation of souls. Our hope for this is in Jesus, and we do not hope in vain.

Our Lady of Fatima came to remind us of this hope, and we do well to pay attention to her message today. She warns us of our need for repentance, to turn away from our sins and be open to receiving God’s mercy. She also asks us to pray, not just for our own salvation, but for the salvation of others, those “most in need of God’s mercy”. Now is not a time to be judgmental of others, but rather to humbly recognize that we are all in need of mercy.

Trusting in God’s mercy, we can look with great hope to our post-COVID19 world. It will look different. It should look different – more like the kingdom of God if we heed the call of Our Lady. Having been saved from the power of sin and darkness, we should be able, with God’s grace, to “make all things new.”  The old systems and structures are proving useless and falling away. Nature abhors a vacuum. It will be our responsibility to rebuild society – civil, economic, political – as God would have it rebuilt, consistent with the Gospel. Love God, love your neighbor. These are our marching orders. Prayerful discernment will guide us in our actions in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth.

I cling to the imperative of St. Pope John Paul II, who credited Our Lady of Fatima for steering the bullet meant to kill him away from his vital organs and saving his life, to ”Be not afraid!” In his Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis reaffirmed this message, imploring us to trust in the Lord and to be assured that Jesus is in the boat with us.  Let us look to the future with hope! “Behold, I am making all things new!”

Carmina Chapp, Ph.D. is Program Director of Online Theology Programs at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Why Consecrate to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

In celebration of 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, several bishops across the country have decided to consecrate their dioceses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This act might leave some people scratching their heads, wondering “What good will that do?” or shrugging their shoulders saying “That’s nice. What’s the NFL schedule that day?”

But if our eyes and hearts are opened to God’s wisdom, we will see that this consecration is the most powerful aid that a diocese could receive.  Marian consecration makes all the difference in the world!

“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”  This is what Our Lady said to Lucia dos Santos, one of the three seers of Fatima.  The Blessed Virgin told Lucia that Our Lord wished Lucia to spend her life promoting devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that humanity could avoid turmoil and suffering on earth and, more importantly, be guided to everlasting salvation in the arms of Christ.

But why would Our Lord request consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?  What does it all mean?

To consecrate yourself to someone is to give yourself, or, as St. Pope John Paul II would say, to “entrust” yourself entirely to someone.  Strictly speaking, we can only consecrate ourselves to God because we are His.  However, when the Church speaks of consecration to Mary, it means that we are giving ourselves to God through Mary.  St. Louis de Montfort, who was arguably the most famous promoter of Marian consecration (and the person from whom St. Pope John Paul II took his motto, Totus Tuus, “Totally Yours”), coined the phrase, “To Jesus through Mary!”

Mary’s relationship with her Son and with us is unique.  She is the woman who said “Yes” at the Annunciation, giving herself without reservation to the Father so that she could give her humanity to the Son, and she is the mother who stood at the foot of the cross, heartbroken, but freely offering her only beloved Son to God for all the world.  In return for this great sacrifice, God extended her divine maternity to include all of His adopted sons and daughters.  She is now Queen of the Universe, our Heavenly Mother and Advocate.

Mary’s life and Jesus’s life are uniquely intertwined for all eternity.  Her will is His will and, as mother of all God’s adopted sons and daughters, she has been entrusted with the formation of souls.  The Son entered the world through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit and the world is drawn to the Son through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Does it seem strange that God would choose to draw us to Himself through a creature?  While I would not pretend to be able to explain the great mysteries of God’s wisdom, I would point out that this seems to be the way that God works throughout history.  He comes to us through prophets, saints, objects like the burning bush, and the material elements of the sacraments.  We give ourselves to Him through the manmade words of prayers and hymns, acts of corporal and spiritual mercy, and reception of the sacraments.  God has always used the material realm to commune with His children who are of the material realm.  When we consider this, it does not seem so strange that He would commune with us through the Son’s Beloved Mother.

God created Our Lady with her special motherhood in mind.  This is why she was and is the Immaculate Conception—the one born without sin, who was, is and always shall be in communion with the Holy Trinity.  She shows us the glory of God’s plans for humanity and she is His greatest instrument for making those plans happen.

If our earthly parents, priests and teachers can form us in the faith, how much more can our Heavenly Mother whose heart and mind are perfected and whose life has always been so intimately intertwined with her Son’s do for our salvation?

This year, many are choosing to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  To the extent that we entrust ourselves to her motherly care and conform to her immaculate example, we will receive great graces.  We enter this consecration knowing that it is not magic.  There will still be times when we will falter and fail.  But we will persevere in faith, remembering that Our Lady of Fatima promised, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Maura Hearden Fehlner teaches Mariology for Saint Joseph’s College Online. She and her husband Deacon John Fehlner are the founders of Light of Truth Ministries, a Catholic radio station broadcasting at 98.3 FM in Lake Placid, N.Y.