– Miguel Augusto (*)
In Macau, a secular point of arrival and departure of Catholicism in Asia, graced by Portuguese tradition and culture still present in the territory, Marian devotions are fervently lived by the local Catholic community. Much of this devotion is today the fruit of the apparitions of Our Lady in Portugal (Fatima), which shines in the City formerly called “City of God’s Name of Macau,” and brings together the faithful – residents or visitors – from the most varied corners of the world to gather around Mary.
Within the calendar of activities and devotions of this year, and similar to what has been done in previous years, this month began with the Novena to Our Lady of Fatima from May 4 to 12. The Novena, in addition to the particular intentions of each faithful, invites everyone to pray for peace in the world, for the youth and for the renewal of the Christian community of Macau. The Portuguese-speaking community prays the Rosary and Novena at 5:30 PM in the church of the Sé Cathedral. The Eucharistic Celebration follows at 6 PM (Portuguese Mass).
Those who speak Chinese can join the Novena, participate in Holy Mass and pray the Rosary, early in the morning, beginning at 8 o’clock in the church of the Sé Cathedral.
On May 12 there will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Adoration from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Sé Cathedral).
The celebration culminates on May 13, the date that marks the first appearance of Our Lady to the shepherds in 1917, in Cova da Iria. The devotion for this day is centered in the Church of St Dominic with Eucharistic Adoration starting at 3 PM. At 5:00 PM, the prayer of the Rosary will begin, followed by Benediction with the consecration of the city at 5:45 p.m. The Eucharistic Celebration in honor of the Holy Mother is scheduled for 6:00 PM. After the Mass, the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima towards the Penha Hill will commence, accompanied by the prayer of the Rosary. Three children – two girls and one boy – like the Shepherds of Fatima, will walk closely to the image of Our Lady, symbolizing the seers who have transmitted the message of Fatima to the world. The procession was held in Macau for the first time in 1929.
Upon arriving at the Church of Penha, Bishop Stephen Lee will impart the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament on the entire city of Macau.
Father Angel Hernandez, parish priest of the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Macau, told us about Marian devotions in his church. “During the year, the Rosary is always held on Sundays – in Chinese and English before the respective Masses – and every day the Angelus prayer is performed at noon on the outside patio of the church next to the image of Our Lady Lady of Fatima and the little shepherds.”
In May and October (month of the Rosary), activities and prayers are done with more intensity and regularity, said Father Angel. “Every night the Rosary is said at 8 o’clock,” he added. Father Angel recalled that every day of the 13th of each month, also at 8:00 PM, a “special” rosary is said for the intentions of Our Lady of Fatima.
The parish also hosts the English and Chinese “Legion of Mary.”
Father Angel Hernandez concluded that the faithful of his parish accompany the Procession of May 13 organized by the Diocese of Macau every year. He adds that on October 13 they have their Procession of Our Lady of Fatima offered to the community, commemorating her last apparition to the little shepherds at Fatima, in Cova da Iria, when the miracle of the sun occurred, in the presence of fifty to seventy thousand people. This miraculous event was part of the headline of a secular Portuguese national newspaper – O Século – at that time with the title: “How the Sun danced at noon in Fatima.”
Suggestions for the month of Mary
The idea of a month dedicated specifically to Mary dates back to the seventeenth century.
Here are some suggestions inspired by a short list of the Catholic Information Agency (Acidigital), which may help to live these Marian days with greater devotion.
Setting a Place for Mary Most Holy – The first step may be to set up in the house, at the office or wherever you are, a place for an image or picture of the Virgin Mary, which can be adorned with flowers and candles. In the office, one can keep an image of the Blessed Virgin on one’s desk.
Readings on the Virgin Mary – It is helpful to read some biblical passages such as the Annunciation, the Nativity, the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple and Mary at the cross without forgetting that Our Lady is mentioned the Sacred Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The woman who steps on the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) and the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Revelation 12:1).
On the other hand, we have the messages of the Mother of God given to the world in her apparitions that have taken place from the early Church to our days, proclaimed by the Church as private revelations.
From these apparitions, we suggest a visit to what the Virgin Mary told us in Guadalupe (Mexico) through Saint Juan Diego, Lourdes (France) through Saint Bernadette, and Fatima through the three little shepherds: Lucia, Saint Jacinta and Saint Francis Marto.
Praying the Rosary – The prayer of the Holy Rosary is Our Lady’s favorite. She herself taught it to Saint Dominic of Guzman. The “weapon” of spiritual combat, as Father Pio used to say.
Centuries later, Mary Most Holy called herself the “Lady of the Rosary” at Fatima, thus confirming the devotion of the Rosary and its importance.
Participating in processions – Participation in a procession means a homage and public recognition to Jesus, Our Lady or to the saints who are carried in the processional “platform.” It is one of the most sublime external and public manifestations of faith.
The candles that the faithful carry, in addition to an offering of praise, show that one is walking towards the light that is Christ.
Receiving the Sacraments – As Mother of the Church, there can be no true devotion to the Virgin Mary if we do not partake of the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation (Confession) and the Eucharist, where Jesus is truly present – body, blood, soul and divinity.
Carrying out works of Mercy – Driven by the love of Mary and strengthened by the sacramental graces of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must meet the neediest, not only by material means but very often through a brotherly hug. The human warmth and love we give enlighten the soul of those who receive it.
Carrying out the apostolate – It is essential to share the faith and its values, especially to future generations.
Give blessed gifts – It is good to offer sacramentals as gifts, such as a Miraculous Medal or a Scapular of Our Lady of Carmel, blessed by a priest. These not only bring us closer to the Mother of God, but they also protect us spiritually as revealed by Our Lady in apparitions accredited by the Church.
Learning from the Holy Doctors and Fathers of the Church – Saint Thomas Aquinas affirms that by being the Mother of God “the Blessed Virgin Mary is clothed with an almost infinite dignity, the cause of the infinite good that is the same God. Therefore, nothing higher than her can be conceived, for there can be nothing more exalted than God” (Summa Theologiae). This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church also teach us.
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – Renew or consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and pray for the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. It is a promise by Our Lady in Fatima.
“It is a great thing that pleases Our Lord, any service to His Mother,” said Saint Teresa of Ávila.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
(*) with Acidigital and Aleteia
Cardinal Tagle presides over the May International Pilgrimage
The International Pilgrimage of May, which also marks the second anniversary of the canonization of Saints Francis and Jacinta Marto, will be presided over by the Philippine Cardinal and Archbishop of Manila, Don Luis Antonio Tagle, in a sign of attention to Asia, whose number of pilgrims don’t stop surprising the Sanctuary of Fatima.
In the first four months of this year, the Shrine has hosted 60 groups of Asian pilgrims announced at the official program celebrations, nine of which came from the Philippines.
The Philippines is the only Asian country where Catholics are a majority – about 80 percent of the population – and in 2021 the nation marks the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the first Christian evangelizers. At this moment the country lives a nine-year journey to the New Evangelization and each year is dedicated to a different theme. This year (2019), the pastoral theme is that of youth, in tune with the Universal Church that has just come out of a synod on Youth and Faith.
Asian presence grows in Fatima
South Korean pilgrims continue to stand out in Cova da Iria as the most expressive group of the Asian presence in Fatima. Between January and April of this year, 30 groups from South Korea were announced, with a total of 730 pilgrims among the 1,934 Asian pilgrims registered in the Shrine. At this point, Sri Lanka is the third Asian country with the most significant number of groups – 8 – and the second in the number of pilgrims – 428.
It should be noted that these numbers come from the records of the Sanctuary which concern groups who request the support of the Pilgrims’ Reception Department to hold private celebrations in the different areas of the Sanctuary.
It is recalled that of the 456 groups that visited Cova da Iria in 2018, from Asia, 125 groups were South Koreans, 93 Filipinos, 48 Indonesians and 36 Vietnamese. Besides, seven other countries have been added: India, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Thailand, with a total of 15,000 pilgrims in organized groups.
Of the approximately 100 groups already registered for this May pilgrimage (the number refers to the end of April), about 10% of the pilgrims come from Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore.