May is a beautiful time here in Southern California — especially this year, when we have been blessed with an abundance of rain and an end to our long drought.
Flowers are in bloom and fruit is full on the trees and, of course, we are early in the Easter season, a season of joy and new life.
It is fitting that the Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May. Through Mary, Jesus came into the world. And through Jesus, the human race enters a new “springtime,” a new beginning in which we can live as children of God.
In the coming days, Pope Francis will be traveling to Fátima, Portugal, to remember the Blessed Mother’s visitation there 100 years ago, on May 13, 1917, and to canonize two of the young children who saw her.
At the time of her appearance in Fátima, Europe was in turmoil. The continent was three years into what history remembers now as World War I — a conflict that left more than 10 million dead and opened the world to a century of death and terror based on ideology, nationalism and ethnic and racial hatreds.
Into this historic moment, the Virgin Mary made her visitation to three little shepherd children, appearing six times between May and October 1917.
Her apparition was ignored by the powers of the earth, but she came as a messenger of hope for the world, hope for history.
The Blessed Mother promised the children that, despite the sin in the human heart and the power of evil and violence, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Our world still needs this same assurance of hope today.
On the flight home from Egypt this weekend, Pope Francis warned again that “Europe is in danger of dissolving.” And everywhere in the world, it seems, people are suffering from violence and fear, poverty and loneliness, a crisis of a lack of love and compassion.
The message of Mary — in all times and in all places — is this message of hope and peace.
She comes as a mother to show us that God our Father has greater things in store for us. Evil is not the final word in our affairs. Mary lifts us up to know that we are made for transcendence, made for God and made for love.
Mary is the bringer of hope because she bears Jesus Christ into the world. And when we know Jesus we know God’s love for us and we can find the path to true peace and freedom.
She is the Mother of God and the mother of every culture and every person in every continent.
Long before Fátima, she appeared on this continent — at the dawn of the New World.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in the midst of a clash of civilizations — the encounter of the Christians of Europe and the native peoples of the Americas.
She appeared as mestizo, to show us that God is incarnate in every race and every people. Her words to St. Juan Diego were words of hope and reassurance: “Am I not your mother? Are you not under my shadow and my gaze?”
God is watching us with divine love in his heart — a love that we see in the eyes of Mary, the Mother of God and our mother.
Mary is our mother and like every good mother, she wants to protect us and to help us grow. She is deeply interested in our lives. She is a living sign of the hope that we have in Jesus, his plan of mercy and love for the world.
God does not forsake us! He does not abandon us. This was the message of her Magnificat:
“His mercy is from age to age.”
In our day, the message of Mary is still a message of peace and hope. God will continue to lift up the lowly and feed the hungry.
At Fátima, the Blessed Mother said we should recite the rosary every day for peace — peace in the world and in our families and in our hearts.
It is still good advice! Remember: the rosary is conversation with Mary and Jesus — we are gazing on the face of Christ, seeing him through the eyes of his mother. Bring her our hopes and joys, all our sufferings and problems.
The rosary will teach us to trust in God’s promises and to follow the way of Jesus. In the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph!
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
Through the intercession of Our Lady of Fátima, let us ask her to be our model and guide as we seek the triumph of love over hate and a new springtime of peace in our world.