Fifth Sunday in Easter

Father Shawn Hughes

May 14, 2017



Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week.  Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it.  ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.  If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn



On this Mother’s Day weekend I would like to begin the homily today by asking all those who are mothers here today to stand:


Mother’s day is an opportunity each year for us to acknowledge and thank you for your great generosity in your openness to bringing  life into the world and caring for them once they were here.   A great blessing.  A great responsibility as well.


I would invite all of you present here to join me in prayer for each of you mothers present here today.


Loving God, as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children, so you watch over your Church.  +Bless these women, that they may be strengthened as Christian mothers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honour them always with a spirit of profound respect.

Through Christ our Lord.


Thank you ladies.  Happy Mother’s Day.

This being Mother’s Day and Yesterday being the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima I would like to speak out Our Blessed Mother today.    Precisely 100 years ago May 13th, 1917 Our Blessed Mother appeared to the three little shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal: Jacinta who was six at the time, her brother Francisco who was 8, & their cousin Lucia who was 9.  Our Blessed Mother continued to appear on the 13th on each month until October 13th, 1917.  The children described “a woman all in white, more brilliant than the sun’ who told them she came from Heaven and that like our gospel today they should not be afraid…. Do not let your hearts be troubled.  She identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary.”   Our Blessed Mother asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to “say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”  She told them the two younger children would die very soon and that Lucia would live a long life to spread the message of Fatima and devotion to her Immaculate Heart.  Lucia became a Carmelite nun.  She died only 12 years ago.

Our Lady of Fatima revealed three prophetic visions which revealed to the three children a vision of hell and the souls languishing there; Our Blessed Mother requested an ardent devotion to her Immaculate Heart primarily through the praying of the rosary.    She predicted the Second World War, and the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism.  The third secret or vision was not revealed until the year 2000, and referred to the persecutions that humanity would undergo in the 20th century.  Our Blessed Mother said to the three children:  “The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated’” and the three children were shown a bishop dressed in white falling to the ground among many corpses, as though dead.  This has been interpreted as to include the suffering of the popes of the 20th century especially the assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II in 1981, which took place on May 13th  The Holy Father attributed his escape from certain death to the intervention of Our Lady. …. He said the hand of a Mother guided the bullet.

In Fatima in the year 2000 St. John Paul II mentioned in his homily at Jacinta and Francisco’s beatifications that at one of the apparitions something like a ray of light enveloped the children and they were plunged in to the mystery of God.  Our Blessed Mother asked these children to offer their lives as “victims of reparation.”  The children saw light shining from her hands, a light which pieced their souls and allowed them to feel united with God, absorbed in His Love.  The felt that His love was a burning fire, burning but not consuming.  Pope John Paul II likened it to the experience Moses had before the burning bush.  The Holy Father said God presents his love as burning for us and as we welcome his burning love, we become “the dwelling-place and, consequently, a ‘burning bush’ of the Most High.’”

On October 13th, 1917, the day of the last apparition, over 70,000 gathered with the three visionaries.  Our Blessed Mother appeared but no one but the three children saw her.  However, all 70,000 witnessed what has come to be known as “the Miracle of the Sun”.  Those present reported they saw the sun make three circles and move around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement in a manner which left no doubt in their minds about the truth of the apparitions.

What is the central meaning of the message of Fatima? To pray the Rosary daily, as the path of “the salvation of souls” and to do penance in reparation and for the conversion of souls.  It is the message of the Gospel today:  not to let our hearts be troubled and to trust Jesus absolutely as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The most well known utterance of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima was her confident declaration that  “My Immaculate Heart will triumph”.  When Pope Benedict XVI was still Cardinal Ratzinger he interpreted Our Lady’s words saying: “The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is what our Lord said in chapter 16 vs. 33 of the gospel of John: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” T 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise. Each of us is invited to imitate our Blessed Mother : to open our hearts to God, to take the time in prayer and contemplation to allow our heart to be purified, so that like her, no matter what suffering or evil crosses our paths we will be stronger than it; confident that God, in Jesus Christ, has overcome the world.

Yesterday in Fatima, the Holy Father, Pope Francis canonized Jacinta and Francisco, who from now on are referred to as St. Jacinta and St. Francisco.


In his homily Pope Francis rreminded the faithful that godlessness “risks leading to hell” but that Mary came to remind us that “God’s light dwells within us and protects us.”


To those in Fatima yesterday morning he said: “Dear pilgrims, we have a Mother. Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus.  When Jesus ascended to heaven, he brought to the Heavenly Father our humanity, which he assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and he will never forsake us.  Like an anchor, let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father (cf. Eph 2:6).  May this hope guide our lives!  It is a hope that sustains us always, to our dying breath.


The Virgin Mary introduced Lucia, St. Jacinta and St. Francisco into the immense ocean of God’s light and taught them to adore him.  That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering.  God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle.


The Holy Father concluded his homily with the following prayer and challenge to us:   “From our Blessed Mother’s embrace will come the hope and the peace that all God’s sons and daughters desire.  With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter.  Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love.”


During the visions in 1917 Our Lady gave us the prayer we pray between each decade of the rosary.  It summarises the meaning of the apparitions: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell.  And lead all souls to heaven.  Especially those in most need of your Mercy. Amen.”


The meaning of Fatima:  pray your rosary daily, pray for the reparation of our sins and for the salvation of all souls.


Our Lady of the Rosary.  Pray for us.