Today Most Holy Father Pope Francis canonized Blessed Pope Paul VI!! This is hugely significant for all Secular Franciscans, as we follow what is called the “Pauline Rule”.
Auspicato Concessum, (Sept. 17, 1882) Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter glorified St.Francis of Assisi on the occasion of the seventh centenary of his birth. In this encyclical, the Pope presented the Third Order of St. Francis as a Christian answer to the social problems of the times. The constitution Misericors Dei Filius (June 23, 1883) expressly recalled that the neglect in which Christian virtues are held is the main cause of the evils that threaten societies. In confirming the rule of the Third Order and adapting it to the needs of modern times, Pope Leo XIII had intended to bring back the largest possible number of souls to the practice of these virtues.
Although his intentions were good, to make the rule easier to follow with hopes of growing the order in size, an increase in piety did not follow with the successful increase in numbers.
The Third Order of St. Francis as it was called then became more of a social club, a group that met for food and prayer, rather than a true order of penitents who certainly met and prayed, but must spend their lives devoted to “Living the Gospel according to the rule of St. Francis of Assisi”. (Rule 4)
The Rule of St. Paul VI approved in 1978, the “Pauline Rule”, brought our beloved order back to its roots as penitents of a true Third Order of St. Francis, renamed the Secular Franciscan Order. We wear a Tau as our “habit” and live our lives in the world, while in prayer and helping others in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.
May 13th, 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the first time our Blessed Mother Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal. Two of the three children will be canonized by Pope Francis during his visit to Fatima May 12-13th.
The first Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco Marto and 7-year-old Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions of Mary continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.
This fascinating event contains secrets which Mary shared with the children as well as the “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by thousands of spectators.
A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9.
The children’s cousin Lúcia moved to Porto in 1921, and at 14 was admitted as a boarder in the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, on the city’s outskirts. On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tui, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border. Lúcia professed her first vows on October 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on October 3, 1934, receiving the name “Sister María das Dores” (Mary of the Sorrows).
Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.
Links to some great information and timeline of the apparitions may be found at the following links: EWTN:https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/ , and Catholic News Service:http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2017/fatima-at-100-story-of-apparitions-continues-to-attract-attention.cfm Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for us!!!!