Heritage Bank debuts ‘HB LAB’ tech start-ups to boost economic growth

Heritage Bank debuts ‘HB LAB’ tech start-ups to boost economic growth

…as winner gets $25, 000 grant, other benefits

Photo: MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, IfieSekibo

Heritage Bank Plc,has announced the, adoption of a focused approach that removes barriers and galvanizes the critical sector of the economy around a bold growth agenda with the launching of its innovation accelerator programme tagged, “HB LAB”.

The maiden edition of HB LAB, the bank said is a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology startups with enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial Inclusion/Intermediation, agriculture and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.

The application portal https://www.hblabs.com.ng/ which was launched on the 31st January 2019 closed on the 14th February 2019.

About 154 applicants who applied were reviewed and 24 of them scored above 60, whilsts the final selection will produce seven successful applicants, which the winner will emerge.

Speaking on the HB LAB, the MD/CEO of the bank, IfieSekibo explained that in Nigeria, technology startups still account for a relatively small share of all businesses, but they have an outsized impact on economic growth, because they provide better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contribute more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

He disclosed that the team with the most compelling solution will be awarded a $25,000 grant alongside access to workspace and IT infrastructure for solution testing and development for a defined period.

According to him, the HB Innovation Lab Programme is open to product development teams and technology driven startups across Nigeria.

Sekibo stated that the critical areas of focus are Fintech, agriculture, education, digital, security and power, whilst noting that the application requirements include names, age, gender, contact number, home and email addresses of the participants.

Meanwhile, for participants who have previously enlisted to participate in any entrepreneurial/innovation programme with a current website or demo reference point, were expected to discuss idea/solution not more than 140-character limit.

Also, such participant   discussed problem statement (not more than 140-character limit), ideation/solution stage (not more than 140 characters), target market (Max 150 words), any challenge(s) faced requiring professional intervention (Max. 150 words), introduced its team (Max 150 words) and upload business plan.

TWELVE MEANS OF RELIEVING THE SUFFERING OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY

TWELVE MEANS OF RELIEVING THE SUFFERING OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY

By Prof. Michael Ogunu

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), all those who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness neces­sary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name ‘Purgatory’ to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.

The practice of special devotion to the souls in Purga­tory in the month of Novem­ber is an old tradition in the Catholic Church.

The ‘Catechism of Christian Doctrine’ (Revised Edi­tion published by London Catholic Truth Society, 1971), explains that “those souls go to Purgatory that depart this life in venial sin, or that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment due to those sins of which the guilt has been forgiven”. The Catechism gives the Scriptural or biblical basis for be­lief in the existence of Pur­gatory:

“I prove that there is a Purgatory from the constant teaching of the Church, and from the doctrine of Holy Scripture, which declares that God will render to every man according to his works; that nothing defiled shall enter heaven; and that some will be saved, yet so as by fire” (Matt. 16:27, Apoc. 21:27, 1 Cor. 3:1-5).

It is an incontrovertible dogma of faith always believed in the Catholic Church, and founded on indisputable evidence, that the faithful are able to aid the souls in Purgatory. Hence St. Augustine observes: “While others weep and mourn at the death of their relatives, be thou intent on coming to the relief of the departed soul by sacrifice, prayer and alms. Prayer by itself and atonement by expiatory works, or both happily united constitute the suffrages for the souls in Purgatory”.

This article describes twelve means of relieving the suffering of the souls in Purgatory, according to Catholic tradition.

  1. Catholic Burial

The first effect of a beloved person’s death is weeping or lamenting by the relatives. Then follow the preparations for burial, the ordering or purchase of mourning dress, a pompous funeral (depending on the financial ability of those af­fected) and visits of condo­lence, which later are in some cases a mere courtesy made for the sake of appearances.

The suffering souls do not receive the least benefit or consolation from a showing funeral. On the contrary they are grieved at witnessing how Satan is served and ambition flattered thereby.

The Holy Fathers (e.g. St. Jerome) severely condemn the practice of pompous funerals and earnestly exhort us to aid in having buri­als performed according to the rites of the Church. The ceremonies of the Church, the bearing of the cross, the ministers in their Sacred vestments, the blessings, incense, holy water, blessed candles and the consecrated ground are all replete with sweet and abundant consolation for the departed soul.

  1. The Sacrifice of Holy Mass

The Holy Sacrifice of Mass has always been considered by the Church to be the most effective means of releasing the souls of the faithful departed from their torments.

Our prayers and still more the prayer and suffrages of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints bring relief to the suffering souls. But what is the prayer of heaven and earth compared with Holy Mass? In prayer a creature intercedes for a creature; in Holy Mass, Jesus Christ, eternal God like His Father, makes intercession for us. Speaking of the value of this Holy Sacrifice, St. Alphonsus Liguori says:

“As the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ was more than sufficiently powerful to redeem the whole world, so also is one Holy Mass powerful enough to save it”.

This august sacrifice is undoubtedly the most powerful means to release the holy souls from their place of torment. This is solemnly declared by the Council of Trent, saying, “The ecu­menical Council teaches that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls confined therein are assisted by the suffrages (prayer, sacrifice and good works) of the faithful, and especially by the Holy Sacrifice of the altar”

  1. Official Prayer of the Church

The Catholic Church is the great institution for our salvation, founded by Christ for the whole world and for all times. As such she has the sublime mission and task of continuing throughout the centuries Christ’s work for the redemption of mankind, and to accomplish it by the conversion and salvation of all nations. The official Prayer of the Church has an essential and particular efficacy of its own. It is more powerful to obtain graces and benefits from God than the prayer offered privately by individual persons, however pious and holy they may be.

Besides the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the dead and the absolution, the Church has ordained also the recitation of a special Office for the Dead. This is handed down to us from the earliest ages of Christianity, and gives evidence of the ardent char­ity and devotion with which, the Church implores mercy at the throne of God and in­tercedes for her suffering children.

  1. Offering of Holy Communion

Frequent and worthy reception of Holy Commun­ion is a most excellent means whereby we can pay off all our own indebtedness, and most effectually help the suffering souls. St. Bonaventure observes: “Let charity and compassion for your neighbours urge you on to approach the Sacred table; for nothing is so effectual as Holy Communion to obtain relief for the suffering souls”.

  1. The Holy Rosary

A most appropriate prayer for the faithful departed is the Rosary. The Blessed Virgin herself assures us through St. Dominic that “The release of the souls in Purgatory is one of the chief effects of the Rosary”. Blessed Alan relates that many Brothers and Sisters testified under oath to having had apparitions of souls from Purgatory during the prayer of the Rosary. They appeared to them wearing the sign of the cross on their foreheads, thanked them for their prayers, and asked them to persevere in it; for except Holy Mass and indulgences, there is, they said, no means so powerful to release souls from Purgatory as the Rosary, and a great number of souls were delivered by it every day.

  1. Prayer

The two most efficient means of obtaining the grace of God for ourselves and others, and thereby gaining heaven, are the Sacraments and prayer. St. Bernard touchingly remarks: “I will invoke the Lord with mournful lamenta­tions. I will beseech Him with continual sighing. I will remember the de­parted in my prayers, hop­ing that the Lord will cast a pitying glance on them, and will change their torments into rest, their dis­tress into ineffable glory. By such means their time of punishment can be shortened, their pains and torments mitigated”. No less aptly does Thomas á Kempis observe:

“Therefore let us pray for our dear ones, whom we shall follow in a short time, that here­after they may remember us in our distress and suffering; but let us always pray with fervent devotion and atten­tion. A short but fervent prayer is sometimes of greater benefit to the suffer­ing than a prolonged form of devotion which is wanting in attention”.

St. Jerome observes:   “I prefer one Psalm recited with devotion to the whole psalter said with distraction.

  1. Alms-giving

We read in Holy Scripture. “Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold; for alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purges away sins and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting. (Tob. XII. 8, 9).

Alms given for the suffer­ing souls help to atone for our own sins of extravagance, and sins proceeding from the abuse of wealth. Rev. John Nageleisen in his book, “Charity for the Suffering Souls” asserts that “This (alms given for the suffering souls) is almost the only way of attaining salvation for those who live in affluence”. The punishment of Purgatory is inflicted on many souls who during their earthly lives were wanting in charity to the poor. By giving alms for the suffering souls we atone on their behalf for their want of charity while on earth.

To remove a scandal, to repair injury, to pay debts, in a word, to make good whatever the departed souls failed to settle before leaving this world — all of these are most meritorious works by which the punishment of Purgatory may be softened and shortened.

  1. Fasting

In order to help the suffering souls, we must render satisfaction to God for the sins that offend Him.

We must satisfy the demands of divine justice by corresponding works of atonement, works by which God is glorified, and man is deprived of some enjoyment in penalty for the sinful gratification in which he wrong­fully indulged. By fasting we chastise our body, refuse gratification to its appetite, give strength to our soul and pleasure to the whole spiri­tual being. Fasting is directed against all forbidden plea­sures and enjoyments. By fasting therefore, we atone for the sins committed by and against our body. Instead of applying this atonement for ourselves, we can offer it to Almighty God in union with the fast of Christ in favour of the suffering souls.

  1. Indulgences

According to the doctrine of the Church, the guilt of sin and its eternal punishment is remitted in the Sac­rament of Penance.

The temporal punishment due to sin however is not always remitted entirely in the Sacrament of Penance, as is done in Baptism. This remaining temporal punishment, as long as it is not remitted, must be suffered ei­ther in this world or in Pur­gatory, before we can enter heaven. Satisfaction for temporal punishment is made by the works of Pen­ance imposed in the Sacra­ment Penance and united with the merits of Christ, and is applied to us by the power of binding and loosing granted to the Church by Christ Himself. By this same power works of penance are imposed on us outside the Sac­rament of Penance for purpose of gaining indulgences.

Finally, satisfaction is also rendered by voluntary works of penance, and by the unavoidable sufferings borne with patience and resignation — all this in union with the merits of Christ.

An indulgence therefore is the remission of the tempo­ral punishment due to sin which the Church grants to the faithful, provided they observe certain conditions. The entire temporal punishment is remitted by a plenary indulgence; a part of it only by a partial indulgence.

It has always been the practice of the popes to grant numerous indulgences applicable to the suffering souls; by gaining of the indulgences we cede to these imprisoned friends of God so much remission of temporal punishment as we would have obtained for ourselves.

It was revealed to St. Bridget that many and great punishments are remitted on account of indulgences, so that whomsoever departs this life after having gained a plenary indulgence before consenting to another sin is admitted to heaven just like one dying in his baptismal innocence.

  1. Holy Water

When we take holy water and sprinkle ourselves or our surroundings with it the prayer of the Church ascends to heaven drawing down blessings upon us and on the objects that are sprinkled with it.

Holy water may be used not only for the purpose of benefiting persons present, but may also be applied for the absent and especially for the suffering souls. In this case the prayers of the Church ascend to heaven in favour of the person or soul intended to be helped. Deodatus, one of the ancient Fathers of the desert remarks: “As the flowers withering in the heat of the sun are refreshed by the rain, so also the souls in Purgatory; these flowers elect of heaven, scorched by the Sun of eter­nal Justice are refreshed by the devout application of holy water”.

  1. Burning of Blessed Candles

God Himself in the Old Testament ordained that lights should be used in His temple and at religious rites performed there. For this purpose He gave the minut­est of directions: “Thou shall make a candle-stick of beaten work of the finest gold … Thou shall also make seven lamps, and shall set them upon the candlestick, to give light over against”.

Under the Christian dispen­sation, the use of lights was retained not only when the Sacred mysteries were celebrated at night during times of persecution, but also during the day. In the early Church those selected to take care of the lamps and candles were specially ordained for this purpose.

The burning lamp or candle signifies Christ, the eternal Light which we implore in our prayers to shine upon the departed. At the same time they are also alms for the suffering souls, symbolizing charity; for as the flame gradually consumes the blessed Candles, thus charity reduces the torments of the purifying fire.

  1. Confraternities for the Relief of the Suffering Souls

Confraternities for the Relief of the Suffering Souls are pious unions or societies founded for the aid and relief of the souls in Purgatory. The existence of such pious unions or confraternities for the relief of the suffering souls can be traced as far back as the year 700 of the Christian era, namely in Mabillon’s “Acts of the Saints of the Order of St. Benedict”. In the lives of other saints also we often meet with leagues of prayer which holy persons entered into for the purpose of helping one another in mitigating torments of Purgatory.  We find instances of this in the biographies of St. Boniface, the Venerable Bede, Abbot Eudberit of Wiremouth, and others.

Terrified at the thought that, as Bellarmine expresses it, “but few just men will escape the exceedingly great pains of Purgatory, because only a very small num­ber are admitted to heaven through the supreme mercy of God immediately after their death”, compassionate souls re­solved to come to the aid of their deceased brethren by the extraordinary power of united prayer and other works of suffrage.

The joint intercession, the increased devotion, the multiplied grace, the virtues and merits of brethren united in God are powerful means of moving the Heart of a God so fail of compassion for His children in distress.

Necessary Conditions

The following conditions must be observed in order that our good works for the souls in Purgatory may be accepted by God:

  • We must have the intention of resigning the merits of our good works in favour of the suffering souls. Our in­tention may specify a particu­lar soul to whom we desire to apply our suffrages. If the works of suffrage are offered for the relief of the suffering souls in general, the satisfac­tory fruits thereof are divided among them all.
  • The work performed must be one of atonement. All good works are such; but they are not all equally valuable as atonement. Their atoning value depends either on the disposi­tion of the person performing them or it may be inherent in the works themselves as for in­stance Holy Mass, indulgences and the prayers of the Church.
  • According to the unanimous doctrine of all theologious, the good works, to be effective, must be per­formed in the state of grace. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the atoning effect of such good works as possess aton­ing power of themselves, are of benefit to the suffering souls even though they be per­formed in the state of sin: such works are for instance Holy Mass and the Prayers and blessings of the Church.

The suffering souls receive no benefit of a good work performed in the state of sin, when the value of the work requires it to be performed in the state of grace. If in such a case the petition of a sinner is granted, this is not done because the work itself was worthy the favour, but solely and purely as a result of God’s mercy.

Sometimes our excessive love for the deceased prevents us from using the right means at the proper time. We do not reflect on the condition of our own soul; we do not examine our own state of conscience before God, but are only concerned at the suffering of our brethren and friends. We per­form our good works too hast­ily, without first offering to God a humble and contrite heart; and thereby we expose them to the danger of being rejected. We loved our departed ones in life, let us remember them in death. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Facing facts, coming to terms with one’s past bring peace, pope says

Facing facts, coming to terms with one’s past bring peace, pope says

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service Vatican

Vatican City — People need to make peace with their lives and anything they are running from, rather than lose themselves to escapism and playful distraction, Pope Francis said.

There is an “industry of distraction” in full force today, which paints the ideal world as being “a big playground where everybody has fun” and the ideal individual as one who “makes money in order to have fun, find satisfaction” in the many “vast and diverse avenues of pleasure,” he said Sept. 5 during his weekly general audience.

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Photo: Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 5. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Such an attitude leads to “dissatisfaction with an existence anesthetized by fun, which isn’t rest, but alienation and escaping from reality,” he added. “People have never been able to rest like they can today and yet people have never felt as much emptiness as they do today.”

The pope continued his series of audience talks about the Ten Commandments, focusing on keeping the Lord’s day holy.

It seems like an easy commandment to fulfill, he said, but it isn’t because people need to recognize there is a false kind of rest marked by avoidance and distraction, and authentic rest, which is being at peace with and giving thanks for the gift of life.

After God made the heavens and the earth, he rested, making the seventh day holy. This day reflects “God’s joy for all he created. It is a day of contemplation and blessing” and giving praise — not running away, the pope said.

“It is a time for looking at reality and saying, ‘How beautiful life is!’ ” he said. “To the idea of rest as escaping reality, the commandment responds with rest as blessing reality.”

In fact, the Eucharist, which lies at the heart of Sunday, means “thanksgiving,” he said; it is a day to thank the Lord for his mercy, his gifts and for the gift of life.

Sunday, he added, is a day to come to terms with one’s life, to find peace — realizing life is not easy, “but it is precious.”

So many people have so many options available for having fun, but they are not at peace with their lives, he said.

“Distancing themselves from the bitter wounds of their heart, people need to make peace with the thing they are running from. It is necessary to reconcile with one’s past, with the facts one is not facing, with the difficult parts of one’s own existence,” he said, asking everyone to reflect on whether they have come to terms with their own life.

Finding peace is a choice, he said. It is not changing one’s past, but is becoming reconciled with what has happened, “to accept and give value” to one’s life.www.ncronline.org

What Was Alfie Evans’s Cause of Death? Terminally Ill Toddler Dies As Courts Denounce Religious Pro-Lifers Involvement

What Was Alfie Evans’s Cause of Death? Terminally Ill Toddler Dies As Courts Denounce Religious Pro-Lifers Involvement

Terminally ill British toddler Alfie Evans has died overnight Saturday, succumbing to a degenerative brain disease five days after being taken off life support, the BBC has reported.

The controversial case sparked an outpouring of emotion from around the world and grew into a wider debate over the ethics of healthcare, drawing fundamentalist religious groups into the fray. Evans died early on Saturday morning at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the northwestern city of Liverpool.

The 23-month-old’s life support treatment was withdrawn on Monday after his parents lost a series of legal battles to maintain it. Evans had been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year. Father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook, “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings…absolutely heartbroken.”

Doctors believed Evans was suffering from a rare neurological condition that caused seizures and had damaged the child’s brain beyond recovery. By December 2017, the hospital had applied to end life support treatment.

This sparked a bitter four-month legal battle. Evans’s parents argued their son should be kept alive with the aid of life support treatment, but hospital staff were adamant that continuing treatment was not in his best interests. In February the British High Court ruled that the child could be taken off ventilation and that further care was “futile.”

The case drew global attention. After a campaign backed by the Catholic Church, Evans was even given Italian citizenship in the hope that he could be flown to the country for treatment. Pope Francis tweeted his support for the family, and said he hoped “their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.”

U.S. pro-life figures were also drawn into the controversy, the Guardian reported. Rome-based American activist Christine Broesamle moved to Liverpool to advise the family, describing her work as “a call from God.” She spoke on a U.S. Christian fundamentalist radio station earlier this week, accusing doctors of being “hellbent” on killing Evans “to cover something up.” Broesamle said Britons should be rioting in the streets over the toddler’s treatment.

The American activist was even named in court earlier this week as the family sought permission for Evans to travel to Italy. According to the Guardian, Broesamle is linked to the Italian “Lawyers for Life” network. One anonymous source told the newspaper she had access to a “seemingly endless pit of money and contacts” to assist the campaign.

Photo: People protest outside Alder Hey Hospital where terminally ill 23-month-old Alfie Evans was being cared for on April 13, 2018 in Liverpool, U.K. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Broesamle reportedly had air ambulances on standby to take the child from Liverpool to a Vatican-run hospital in Italy if the courts allowed the family to do so, and even arranged for Vatican-backed doctors—posing as friends of the family—to travel to Britain to surreptitiously examine the child.

The Evans family’s own legal representation was taken over by anti-LGBT Christian Legal Centre earlier this month. Russian law student PavelStroilov spoke for the family in court, and was described by a judge as a “fanatical and deluded young man” whose efforts were “inconsistent with the real interests of the parents’ case.” Stroilov told Evans’s parents they could pursue a private prosecution for murder against three doctors who had been treating their son.

British judges expressed concern over the involvement of Catholic fundamentalists and recommended a wider investigation looking into how they may have hijacked the case. The Alder Hey lawyers are reportedly considering legal action against Stroilov unless he proves his legal qualifications.

The legal challenge finally ended earlier this week, when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dismissed the parents’ decision to appeal verdicts of the High Court, Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the ECHR. Following the decision, 200 people protesting for continued treatment attempted to storm the hospital where Evans was being treated, requiring police to intervene.

Tom Evans thanked the demonstrators for their support, but asked they “go home” so the family could work with the hospital to create an end-of-life plan for his son “that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs.”

Alder Hey hospital released a statement expressing the “heartfelt sympathy” of the staff and acknowledging what has been “a devastating journey” for his parents.

Excitement builds up as Catholic Praise Concert holds August 11

Excitement builds up as Catholic Praise Concert holds August 11

Rev Fr. Lawrence Adelana (AKA – Fada Fuji), Rev Fr. Tony-Maria Boluwaji, Joe Praize, TessyAniesi, Daniel  “A_Strings” Azuka (Turkey based Violinist), Kenny K’Ore, Prisca D Nightingale, Psalmos, and KelarThrillz, are amongst artists ready to set the city of Lagos on fire at the 3rd edition of Catholic Praise Concert scheduled to hold on Friday, August 11, 2017 at St Leo Catholic Church, Toyin Street, Ikeja.

Excitement has shot up among their numerous fans, as this is the first time this carefully selected combination will be performing in Nigeria. Also to further thrill the guests are St Charles Lwanga Choir, St Cecilia (University of Lagos) Choir, St Augustine Choir, EllaVibes, B’Dash, Jesus Baby, DJ X-moe, DJ Donastic, Harmonic Syndrome, Man of Praise, IykeOkechukwu of Tinsel, MC Mecuoyo and IvieOkujaye are also set to set the mood as comperes; there will be a special ministration by Bishop Emmanuel AdetoyeseBadejo of Oyo Diocese and so much more.

The Catholic Praise Concert is a one-day, Gospel music concert which has become an annual Catholic evening of Praise music offering to God for Christians. It features some of the best-known musical talents in the Gospel music genre. The Event debuted on the 26th of April 2014 and subsequently evolved into an annual tour with increased momentum in terms of performances, anticipated crowd and venue. It features; praise, worship, dance, and special highlight performances.

According to Director of Catholic Praise Concert, Peter Egbumokei, “In addition to the previous years‘ special performances, this year’s event will be an experience of Excellent Praise for Extraordinary Grace performances, hence the theme – Praise 4 Grace”.

The event is being organized by the Felicia Michael SoS Foundation, House of Ogugua Michael Egbumokei and Yellow Craig in conjunction with Saint Leo Catholic Church. It is powered by the Holy Spirit and proudly supported by Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Inspiro Productions and Donralph Media Concepts Limited- DMG.

Egbumokei went further to explain that, “The Catholic Praise Concert is simply an opportunity for Christians to come together to praise GOD, interact, put aside un-Godly differences, and together lift one voice in worship to God. In a simple phrase – an offering of PRAISE to God; our lives must go from Grace to Praise of God, that Heaven may take notice of us and our beloved country. It also serves as a medium to showcase beautiful Gospel talents that our country is endowed with”.

Also speaking on the event, Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Aniagwu who is the Parish Priest of the host parish, St Leo Catholic Church, reiterated that the Catholic Church is very open minded, diverse in its worship of God, and that the Church is not boring at all. Urging Catholics in Lagos and across the country to participate in the concert scheduled for August 11, 2017. Msgr. John Aniagwu affirmed that participating in the Catholic Praise Concert, is a sure way for Catholics to further express their love for God and honour to Mary the Mother of God.

100 years later, Fatima still offers a potent message

100 years later, Fatima still offers a potent message

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, speaks to CNA March 16, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Although the Fatima apparitions happened 100 years ago, the Vatican’s resident Fatima-expert, has said they contain a message that’s both relevant and needed in the world today.
“The apparitions of Fatima are a historical event with an extraordinary significance, and they have a meaning that’s not only religious, but also socio-political,” Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins told EWTN News in an interview.

What Our Lady offered during her apparitions is a message “that deals with mankind as mankind, not only Christians or believers,” and because of this, it “has an extraordinary authority” in the world today.

Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Martins is himself from Portugal, and has written extensively on the apparitions.

On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children – Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta – in a field while they were tending their family’s sheep.

In her message to the children, Mary brought with her requests for conversion, prayer (particularly the recitation of the rosary), sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a three-part secret regarding the fate of the world.

Although there are many different elements to the requests made by Our Lady, Cardinal Martins said her appeals can be summed up in four key themes.

“I always say there are four key chapters, four points of extreme authority,” he said. “So what are these four points?”

Faith

“The first point, the first appeal of the Madonna, is an appeal to faith,” Cardinal Martins said.

Her appeal in this regard “is very current because, unfortunately, we live in a world in which the faith is falling. Unbelief is growing, and the Catholic faith, the faith of the Gospels, is increasingly decreasing.”

“We are walking toward a pagan world,” the cardinal continued, explaining that in many ways man no longer believes in the Gospel. People have an “abstract faith,” he said, but the Gospel is not a part of their concrete lives.

Thus Mary’s call to faith, even after 100 years, “has an extraordinary authority,” he said.

“Man today needs faith, to believe in something; to believe in God, who is our common father, to believe in our brothers, we are all children of the same Father, we are all brothers.”

Understanding the link between these two aspects is fundamental for the world today, not just for Christians, but for all mankind, he said, adding that man needs to recognize that “one’s origin is from God, it is not autonomous.”

“There is no world war, (but) there are small wars, as the Pope says, and they are worse than a world war, because a world war has a beginning and an end and then it finishes.”

“These small wars, on the other hand, are worse than the world wars because they don’t end.”

Conversion

Cardinal Martins said there is a second key appeal made by Mary “which is very important, and that is conversion.”

“The Madonna spoke many times to the shepherds about the need for man to convert … to increasingly draw nearer to God, and so to always draw nearer to our brothers and sisters,” he said, explaining that “the second appeal depends on the first.”

Throughout her six appearances Mary encouraged them to pray the rosary daily and to offer sacrifices in reparation for sins.

In her third appearance to the shepherds, Mary told them: “Sacrifice yourself for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Conversion is something still missing from in the world, Cardinal Martins said, noting that in all of her apparitions Mary consistently insisted “on the need for man, especially today, to increasingly draw nearer to his origin, to God.”

Peace

The third “chapter” of Our Lady of Fatima’s message is an appeal for peace, Cardinal Martins said.

Mary spoke to the children about peace often and urged them to pray for peace, he said, noting that her request came as the global armies were embroiled in World War I.

Our Lady’s message was to “do penance, ask for peace, because otherwise man will disappear,” he said, as is evidenced in the vision the children had of hell and the souls who anguishing there.

Perhaps one of the most impressionable aspects of the apparitions, he said, is Mary’s insistence “on the absolute, urgent need to have peace, to fight for peace, to ask God for peace.”

He stressed the need to continue to pray for peace today, because “man today needs many things, but especially peace, with himself and others.”

He referenced the many conflicts raging throughout the world, saying “one of the most painful wounds today is this fighting one with the other; the lack of peace between Muslims and Christians, the inhabitants of this country and the inhabitants of that country, etc.”

Hope

“Many people today lack many things, but lack one above all: hope.”

Hope is the fourth and final chapter of Mary’s message, Cardinal Martins said, explaining that “man today doesn’t have hope, he lives a life without a future, without the hope of a future.”

And if a person doesn’t have hope in the future – whether in his own life or in his relationships with others – “then what life is this?” the cardinal asked, noting that sadly, “it’s a life that many times, unfortunately, many times ends in suicide.”

Pointing to the high suicide rate among teens, he said many youth end up killing themselves “because they live a life that has no meaning for them. They lack hope, they lack a vision for the future.”

Hope, he said, “is fundamental for man,” so it’s natural for those who lose hope to turn to suicide in their despair, because they feel that “there is no sense to my life if it doesn’t have a destination that it must reach.”

So what Mary asks for from the men of today, and “what God demands of men today, (is) a deep faith, a hope, brotherhood among us – which is greatly lacking – so we will have peace, which we need to live a dignified life,” he said.

Cardinal Martins said this synthesis of the message of Fatima is not only relevant for the world today, but “it’s an obligation for the Church.”

The message of Fatima ought to be lived not just individually, but “as a human community,” he said, explaining that the three children were able to respond to Our Lady’s appeals with “an extraordinarily unique, unrepeatable mission.”

Even though they were young children, they were able to communicate and spread Mary’s message to the entire world with their sacrifices and prayers, he said, adding that the centenary of the apparitions, coupled with the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta, “does nothing but underline this importance.”

By Elise Harris/http://catholicherald.com.ng