Parish Renewal and Fatima

Parish Renewal and Fatima

THE Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991 noted: “The present efforts at Church renewal should center on the parish. Without parish renewal, the family and Basic Ecclesial Communities will not find a strong supportive ambience, and will continue to feel isolated” (PCP-II 604). In the same vein, the CBCP has recently noted that “it would be a lost opportunity if the year of the parish as communion of communities [2017] would ignore the clarion call of Fatima for prayer, penance and communion.”

Fatima and Authentic Renewal. Pope Benedict XVI, as the Philippine Bishops recall, “took pains to spell out the fundamental significance of the Fatima events and of the message of Our Lady of Fatima.” He believes that the “point of Fatima” can also be seen “in the suffering of the Church and the weakening of the forces of good and of the work of God in our world.”
“If the nation needs healing, the healing will start in our parishes. If the nation needs to crush the forces of evil, it will start in our parishes. If the nation needs to strengthen the presence of God in society, the strengthening of the parishes is the only way.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written that “the answer to the power of evil in the world of our time can only come from the transformation of the heart, through faith, hope, love, through penance and conversion.” In this sense, for Church renewal, “the message of Fatima is precisely not a thing of the past. During this Fatima Centennial (1917-2017) we pray: “that the power of evil be restrained, that the energies of good might regain their vigor.”

Church Renewal and Prayer. In their pastoral letter for the “Year of the Parish” (2017) the Philippine Bishops have outlined some proposals for “a program of action for our parishes and basic ecclesial communities from the Fatima message.” Our Bishops note: “Pope Paul VI, in his own summing up of the Fatima message, defined it as ‘a message of prayer and penance.’ So let it be for our parishes! Our communion of communities needs a renewed and passionate program of intense prayer and penance.”

The Bishops continue: “Parishes and communities will be renewed only through personal and community prayer. Our first mission in the world is to be a leaven to teach our society how to pray. Our first duty in communion is prayer.”
“Prayer is an act of love. Every prayer whether of praise or contrition or petition is always a plea for mercy. Prayer is our parish anchor. Prayer is our cornerstone. Parishes and BECs will be renewed as oases of mercy through reparation for sins, frequent confession and acts of mercy.”

Parish Pillars: Eucharist, Scripture, and Mary. Fostering Church renewal, the Philippine Bishops have presented three pivotal foundations. “Parishes and communities will be renewed by living the Eucharist which we receive every day.”
Renewal also springs from Sacred Scripture. “It is the Word of God inviting the confused, the lonely, the bored, the suffering to the joy of the Gospel. It is God’s life humanized in his incarnation; it is human life divinized in his suffering, death and resurrection.”

Our Bishops continue: “Let us envision parish renewal from the Immaculate Heart of Mary and through the means she gave us at Fatima—prayer and penance intensified in every parish…. May Our Lady of Fatima, whom we also invoke as Mother of the Church, pray for us” that parishes truly become “oases and wellsprings of renewal and mercy!”