Selected Text from the April 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander
The Magazine of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands
Most Rev. Herbert Bevard - PUBLISHER
Father John Matthew Fewel -EDITOR
Sarah Jane von Haack - MANAGING EDITOR
Brother James Petrait, OSFS - WEBMASTER
Msgr. Michael Kosak - PROOFREADING, Advantage Editing
Deacon Emith Fludd- CIRCULATION
Jenny Bis - GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Click on the links or scroll below for the text from the following articles from the April 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander:
Journey of Faith
Faith - The cornerstone of life
DR. RIZALENA BATENGA
by Paul McAvoy
For more than 40 years, Dr. Rizalena Batenga has been helping sick children on St. Croix as a pediatrician. What you might not know about her is that nearly every day, before she goes to her office or on hospital visits, Dr. Batenga is in church, offering a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Her Catholic faith the cornerstone of her life, and has been since she was young.
“It was just a way of life for most Catholic families in the Philippines; it’s a routine,” Dr. Batenga said of her home country. “The families go to church every Sunday and every holy day of obligation.” She continued, “What I remember very well is in the evening we did the rosary before we went to bed, and in the morning we did the same thing. My parents, especially my father, engrained in us the importance of prayer, so that whether we were sleepy or not, we had to pray.”
Lina, as she was known to her friends, went to Catholic school and, as she grew older, she embraced her faith. When it came time to choose a career, she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Lina chose the Santo Tomas Medical School because it was a Catholic school, and there she could get her medical education and a strong dose of the Catholic faith with her academics. ‘As you get higher in the years [in school], it was getting more and more hectic and that’s probably why — you have to really pray more, even if you are studying so hard, that you always find time to pray,” Dr. Batenga said.
Lina married and applied to come to the United States to further her medical education, as did her husband, who was also a doctor. After working to extend their visas, they found their way to the Virgin Islands, where they set up a practice in Christiansted. Soon, they were a part of the island community, raising their two sons, and helping the children of St. Croix and attending Holy Cross Parish.
Years later, tragedy struck when Dr. Batengas husband died, leaving her to raise their two school- aged sons on her own. It was then that she leanedmore about her faith and trusted in Gods providence. “It was extremely difficult to take care of two sons, so I was drawn more to the Lord because I depended on the Lord,” she said. “I would pray that the kids would grow up the way that I wanted them to, that they would finish their schooling ... I just put my trust in the Lord. And they went to school, they are finished now, and they are grown. After that, I was so thankful that it drew me deeper into my religion.”
Part of her deepening Catholic faith led Dr. Batenga to become involved with the Dames of Malta, the ladies group of the Knights of Malta — a Catholic international aid group with deep ties to St. Croix. “For my first seven years [with the group], we would go to Lourdes the first week in May, and we would bring sick people to Lourdes to bathe in the waters ... In the evening, we have the rosary procession in different languages and it’s really amazing.” In recent years, a few health challenges have kept Dr. Batenga from going to France with the Knights and Ladies, but she continues to be active in the group.
The work that is close to her heart is the volunteering she does with the Missionaries of Charity, St. Teresa of Calcutta’s order working in the USVI. What started as a few trips to the grocery store to support their programs to feed the hungry has grown into one of Dr. Batengas favorite charitable endeavors. By working with the Missionaries, she helps the homeless on St. Croix, all to give glory to God. It’s her way of giving back. “Since the Lord has really blessed me and my children,” Dr. Batenga said, “I want to do more than what I’m doing now to show my appreciation for the Lord and my family.”
Our Lady of Fatima
100Years of Grace
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Mary to three young visionaries in the town of Fatima in Portugal. This report is excerpted from Fatima, 100 years of grace by the World Apostolate of Fatima, U.S.A. — Our Lady’s Blue Army. If you would like to read an in-depth account of the miracle, its history and the lives of the children, accompanied by historical photography, visit giftshop.wafusa.org.
During World War I, Pope Benedict XV made repeated, but forlorn, pleas for peace. Finally, in May 1917, he made a direct appeal to the Blessed Mother to intercede for peace in the world. Just over a week later, Our Lady began to appear at Fatima, Portugal, to three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos, age 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, ages 9 and 7. Flowever, it was in the previous year, 1916, that the children had their first supernatural encounters with an angel as a means of preparing them to receive the Queen of Heaven.
The angel of Portugal
In the spring of 1916, as the three shepherd children tended their sheep in a property called Old Chousa, a drizzling rain began tofall, so they climbed the hill to find shelter in the crevices of a rock. Suddenly, a strong wind began to shake the trees. They looked up and saw coming toward them a dazzlingly beautiful young man, seemingly made of light, who told them, “Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me.” Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground and had them repeat three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” Then, rising, he said, “Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” Leaving them absorbed in a supernatural atmosphere, the angel disappeared.
The angel appeared to them again later in the summer and in the fall, encouraging them to pray and to make sacrifices for the reparation of sin.
The three secrets
The children said they had been told a three-part secret. Lucia wrote down the third part of the secret at the order of her bishop, but it was not divulged until 2000, just after the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco.
THE VISION OF HELL
"As she spoke these words she opened her hands. The light seemed to penetrate the earth and we saw, as it were, a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened and burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so sadly:
“‘You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."
THE REQUEST FOR THE CONSECRATION OF RUSSIA
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.’”
THE CALL TO PENANCE
Obeying an order from her bishop, Sister Lucia wrote the last part of the secret on Jan. 3, 1944: "At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire, but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated toward him from her right hand. Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’ We saw an immense light that is God, something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it, a bishop dressed in white (we had the impression it was the Holy Father) and other bishops, priests and men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross of rough- hewn trunks as of a cork tree with the bark. Before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins, and, half trembling with a halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met along his way. Having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other bishops, priests, men and women religious and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the cross there were two angels each with a crystal aspersorium in their hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
The first apparition of Mary
On May 13, the three children took their flocks out to pasture in the area known as the Com da Iria. After lunch and the rosary, they suddenly saw a bright flash of light, followed quickly by another flash in the clear blue sky.
They looked up to see, in Lucia’s words, ‘A lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.” She said, “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you. I come from heaven.” She asked them to come to the Cova for six months on the 13th day of the same hour. She ended the visit by saying, “Say the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war,” and began to rise serenely towards the east until she disappeared.
The Miracle of the Sun During the October Apparition
The greatest miracle to occur since the resurrection is also the only miracle ever precisely predicted as to date, time of day and location. It is popularly known as “The Miracle of the Sun” and Oct. 13,1917, has come to be known as “The Day the Sun Danced.” The miracle was viewed by 70,000 or more people at the Cova that day, and is reported to have been seen from as far as 25 miles away. Doubters and skeptics had become believers. Even the secular newspaper O Seculo's chief reporter, Avelino de Almeida, who had written satirically before, now reported affirmatively, and stood by his story later on in spite of harsh criticism.
Mary continued to appear to the children throughout the months, and encouraged the children to pray the rosary for the reparation of sins and the conversion of Communist Russia. As word spread, large crowds gathered to witness and pray.
Fatima: A timeline
The village of Fatima is named after a beloved Muslim princess who converted to the Catholic faith and married the Christian knight Goncalo Hermingues
9-year-old Lucia sees a figure in white suspended in midair
The angel of peace appears to Lucia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco
The angel of peace appears a second time, announcing himself as the angel of Portuga
The angel of peace appears a third time
MAY 13, 1917
First apparition of Our Lady of Fatima at the Cova da Iria
JUNE 13, 1917
Second apparition of Our Lady of Fatima
JULY 13, 1917
Third apparition of Our Lady of Fatima — three-part secret revealed to the children
AUG. 13, 1917
The Fatima shepherds are kidnapped by Administrator Arturo de Santos, a leading Freemason
AUG. 19, 1917
Fourth apparition of Our Lady occurs in Valinhos near the village of Aljustrel
SEPT. 13, 1917
Fifth apparition of Our Lady of Fatima
OCT. 13, 1917
Sixth apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, Miracle of the Sun occurs before 70,000 witnesses in the Cova da Iria
Francisco and Jacinta Marto contract the deadly influenza
APRIL 4, 1919
Francisco dies from influenza
APRIL 29, 1919
First Capelinha, “Chapel of Apparitions,” is built at the site of the apparitions
FEB. 20, 1920
Jacinta dies from tuberculosis and bronchial pneumonia
JUNE 13, 1920
The first statue of Our Lady of Fatima, sculpted by Jose Thedim according to Lucia’s description, is placed at the Capelinha
JUNE 15, 1921
Our Lady appears to Lucia a seventh time and tells her to follow the path the bishop wants her to take; she departs to a school in Porto led by the Dorothean Sisters, taking the name Maria das Dores
MAY 3, 1922
Bishop Jose Alves Correia da Silva opens an official inquiry into the events at Fatima
OCT. 24, 1925
Lucia joins the Dorothean Sisters in Spain
DEC. 10, 1925
Our Lady and the Child Jesus appear to Sister Lucia in the convent chapel and request the propagation of the First Saturday Communions of Reparation
FEB. 15, 1926
The Child Jesus appears to Sister Lucia, asking what is being done to spread the First Saturday devotion
JUNE 13, 1929
Sister Lucia receives a vision of the Holy Trinity in the chapel; Our Lady appears and requests the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the Holy Father and all the bishops
OCT. 13, 1930
Bishop da Silva issues pastoral letter approving the apparitions at Fatima
OCT. 3, 1934
Sister Lucia professes final vows with the Sisters of St. Dorothy, becoming Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart
SEPT. 13, 1939
The bishop of Leiria makes public the request for the First Saturday devotion
DEC. 2, 1940
Sister Lucia writes to Pope Pius XII requesting the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart
OCT. 13, 1942
Coronation of Our Lady of Fatima statue with a crown of jewels donated by Portuguese people, in thanksgiving for being spared during World War II
Bishop of Leiria orders Sister Lucia to write the third part of the secret, fearing she was dying
JAN. 3, 1944
Our Lady appears to Sister Lucia giving permission to write the third part of the secret; the contents are delivered to the bishop of Leiria for safekeeping
Msgr. Harold V. Colgan cofounds The Blue Army with John Haffert and pledges it will oppose the Red Army of Communism
MARCH 25, 1948
Sister Lucia enters the Carmel of Coimbra, PortugalJAN. 1950
The first issue of Soul magazine is published to spread the message of Fatima; 1 million signed pledges are buried at the Fatima Shrine
JULY 7, 1952
In special apostolic letter,
Pope Pius XII consecrates the Russian people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
AUG. 17, 1959
Pope St. John XXIII reads the contents of the third part of the secret, but discerns it is not the right time to release it
MARCH 27, 1965
Pope Paul VI reads the contents of the third part of the secret and decides not to publish the text
MARCH 25, 1984
Pope St. John Paul II consecrates the world (and implicitly Russia) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with the Catholic bishops of the world and some Orthodox bishops; Sister Lucia confirms this consecration “was accepted by heaven” and fulfills Our Lady’s request
MAY 13, 1989
Pope St. John Paul II declares Jacinta and Francisco “venerable”
MARCH 15, 1990
The Vatican establishes diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, following a meeting between Pope St. John Paul II and President Mikhail Gorbachev
MAY 13, 1991
At Fatima, Pope St. John Paul II thanks Our Lady for the fruits of the 1984 collegial consecration and renews the consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart
New Roman Catholic dioceses erected in Russia
MAY 13, 2000
Pope St. John Paul II beatifies Francisco and Jacinta, declaring them “Blessed”
JUNE 26, 2000
The Vatican publishes the third part of the secret of Fatima
FEB. 12, 2005
Sister Lucia dies
FEB. 19, 2006
Sister Lucia’s body is transferred from the Carmel to the Basilica of the Shrine of Fatima and laid to rest by the tombs of Francisco and Jacinta
OCT. 13, 2013
Pope Francis consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that is flown to Rome for this occasion
THE FATIMA PRAYERS:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love thee! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love thee.
O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which he is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
Most Holy Trinity, I adore thee! My God, my God, I love thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
O Jesus, it is for love of you, for the conversion of sinners,
and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Decade Prayer - to be recited after each decade of the rosary
O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.
A Solemn Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Most Holy Virgin Mary, tender mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the request of the vicar of your Son on earth, I consecrate myself and my family to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, O Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and I recommend to you all the people of our country and all the world. Please accept my consecration, dearest Mother, and use me as you wish to accomplish your designs in the world.
O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and Queen of the World, rule over me, together with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, my king. Save me from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in my heart and home the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the rosary more faithfully. I come with confidence to you, O Throne of Grace and Mother of Fair Love, inflame me with the same divine fire which has inflamed your own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Make my heart and home your shrine, and through me, make the Heart of Jesus, together withyour rule, triumph in every heart and home. Amen. — POPE Pius XII
SAINT OF THE MONTH
ST. ANSELM OF CANTERBURY
Feast Day: April 21
‘Unless I believe, I will not understand’
St. Anselm, a Benedictine monk who lived during the 11th and 12th centuries in Europe, is a doctor of the Church and is remembered as a great philosopher and theologian. He was the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God in his work Proslogion. In it, St. Anselm wrote: “God is that, the greater than which cannot be conceived.” He is often mentioned as the brightest Catholic intellect between St. Augustine in the 5th century and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.
Anselm wished to enter the monastery at an early age, but his father did not approve. He eventually left his home in Italy in 1057 at the age of 23 and entered the Benedictine monastery at Bee in Normandy, France. Anselm’s reputation as a superior intellect, along with his honesty and devoutness, soon led him to be elected prior of the famous monastery at Bee.
In 1093, Anselm was named archbishop of Canterbury. In that position, he upheld his monastic vows, and pushed for reform. He was exiled twice because he refused to accept the concept of royal control over both church and state. He died in 1109.
by Doug Culp
WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN SOMEONE ASKS ME WHY WE HAVE TO CONFESS OUR SINS TO A PRIEST? THEY WANT TO KNOW WHY WE CAN’T GO DIRECTLY TO GOD.
In 2017, Theology 101 is focusing on the topic of evangelization. Specifically, the task is to offer some ways of approaching various questions Catholics may encounter from co-workers, family and friends regarding the practice of the faith. Of course, we must remember that nothing can replace the power of witnessing to the Good News through our own actions and words combined with our willingness to accompany others on their faith journey.
Healing the whole person
Often, the best way to engage this kind of question is to ask a question of your own that will help to ground your eventual response in shared experiences. For example, you might ask the questioner have they ever known someone who wanted to avoid visiting the doctor when they were ill, or the dentistno matter how much their tooth hurt? Perhaps such a person might have reasoned with themselves, “God knows what is wrong with me. I can go directly to God, who can heal me should it be his will. After all, it is only God alone who can heal anyway.”
While this is certainly true, the person might actually be avoiding healing because they are really scared of going to the doctor forfear of the pain of the treatment and what it might mean for their life. This fear keeps them from acknowledging the truth that, while God can directly heal them, God is offering to heal their physical body precisely through the vocation of the physician and all those in the medical profession — because this is what they need as human beings, a body and a soul.
And so why a priest?
If you can get the questioner reflecting on this experience, you can then begin addressing their question. You can point out that, as in the case of healing a physical ailment, only God can forgive sins. However, in the same way that God offers healing to the body through the physician, God forgives us (heals us and restores us to communion) precisely through the vocation of the priesthood - because this is what we need as human beings - a soul and a body.
Jesus Christ, by virtue of his divine authority, has given this power to some to exercise in his name because of his desire that the Church be “sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood.” (ccc 1442) To this end, Jesus entrusted the power of the absolution of sins to his apostles. This power passed principally to the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles and the visible head of a diocesan Church. Priests, who are a bishops collaborators, are able to exercise this power in Jesus’ name “to the extent that they have received the
That for which we were made
The motivation for this is not based on any need of God, but rather, our needs given our reality and destiny. For instance, the first paragraph of the prologue to the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that God created us freely and out of love for eternal life in communion with God. In other words, we are made for communion with the Blessed Trinity. The implication is clear: if we were made for communion, then we will only be whole (healed) if we live in harmony with this end.
One way we have come to understand what this means practically is by using the image of the Mystical Body of Christ. Christ, who is in perfect communion with the Father, is the head of his body, the Church. The Church, to be healthy or whole, must remain in communion with Christ, her head. She can only do this because of the indwelling Spirit, who is in perfect communion with the Son and the Father. Finally, each of the members of the Church are called to remain in communion with the Church through the same power of the Spirit, who carries the Church into communion with the Son and the Father.
The problem of sin
Sin, of course, is a rupture of the communion with God and each other to which we are all called. For sure, sin breaks our personal communion with God. Consequently, going directly to God for forgiveness of sin is a good and should always be encouraged.
However, at the same time, sin damages our communion with the Church, thereby impacting the body’s communion with her head. This is because sin never is simply personal in its impact. Sin always has a social consequence as well. Consequently, the healing of this rupture requires both reconciliation with God and Christ’s body, the Church. Hence, our need for the sacrament of reconciliation, which expresses and accomplishes liturgically this forgiveness of God and reconciliation with the Church.
In other words, try explaining it like this: We must be careful that our going directly to God for the forgiveness of our sins does not become a way of our avoiding responsibility for the damage caused by our sinfulness — of keeping our sin secret and in the dark so as not to be discovered, as though this somehow erases the very real consequences of sin.
For further reflection
Consider prayerfully reading the following passage from the Gospel of John (20:19-23):
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so / send you. ” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
What does this passage have to teach us about the connection between peace (wholeness, healing, communion) and the role of the priest in hearing confessions?
How might this passage help you explain why we have to confess our sins to a priest?
Evangelization Quiz (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer.)
Which saint said the following?
Go to your confessor; open your heart to him; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity. For God, who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls.
a) St. Augustine
b) St. Faustina
c) St. Francis de Sales
d) St. Thomas Aquinas
Evangelization Quiz Answer c) St. Francis de Sales