MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Dutch bishops consecrated their dioceses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal.
The ceremony was led by Cdl. Wim Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. In his homily summing up the apparitions at Fatima, Cdl. Eijk noted the first secret of Fatima concerned a "vision of Hell and a call to prayer, conversion and penance to save souls and bring them to eternal salvation."
He then noted that many Catholics today still deny or ignore the existence of Hell. "The existence of Hell," said the cardinal, "was (and is) denied by many Christians and is not or barely mentioned by Christian preachers and catechists. The solemn warning of Mary must, however, be taken seriously."
The ceremony was held in the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady in Maastricht. During the ceremony, which took place during Vespers, Cdl. Eijk gave a homily in which he elaborated on the unusual event. He explained that the Blessed Mother appeared in Portugal at a time when the country was under severe attack by Freemasons.
"As the result of a revolution in 1910, a very anticlerical government came to power in which freemasons dictated the tone," he noted. This government, said Cdl. Eijk, banned in Portugal the following:
The cardinal went on to say that Fatima's message is still current today: "The situation of the Church has certainly not improved in our century. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Additionally, there is not only persecution from outside, but also from within."
The messages of Fatima were similar to those at La Salette and Lourdes in that they called for prayer and penance for sins, says the cardinal: "At all these apparitions, Mary's message was that we should return to Christ, the Son of God and Her Son, do penance to gain forgiveness for our own sins and those of others and devote ourselves intensively to prayer, especially the Rosary."
Even though the messages of Fatima couldn't add to the body of public revelation, which ended with the Apostles, nevertheless, they do help us orient our lives to God during trying circumstances, he noted. "The messages of Mary at Fatima helped to better understand what the faith in Christ required to hold onto under the serious threats to the Church in the twentieth century," the cardinal remarked.
He noted that the consecration to Mary's Immaculate Heart means two things. Firstly, "we want to achieve a complete consecration of ourselves to Christ" in imitation of her. Secondly, because we need help to do just that, "it also expresses that we consecrate ourselves to her motherly care. In other words, that we entrust ourselves to her intercession with God."
The cardinal finished by entrusting each diocese to the hands of Mary, whom Pope John Paul II credited with saving his life from an assassination attempt in 1981: "We pray that Mary places the path of the Church and our personal lives in the protective hands of the Risen Lord, through her constant intercession. Amen."