I am writing to you in my last week here at San Albano, Valladolid. Naturally I am entering a period of reflection as my year in Spain draws to a close. It has been a wonderful time of spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral growth, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have followed my journey and held me in prayer during this year.
In the first week of June, the English College undertook a pilgrimage to Fatima, a truly prayerful sanctuary which is very close to my heart. We travelled to Fatima via Santiago de Compostela – the great finish line of the Camino or Way of Saint James. It was so inspiring to walk the streets of Santiago in the evening and to see all the pilgrims, young and old, celebrate as they reached the relics of St James in the Cathedral and embrace the statue seated within the high altar.
I hope one day to return to Santiago, perhaps having walked some of the Camino myself, but we will see what the Lord has in store.
As mentioned above, Fatima is a shrine I have a great love for; the faith, both of the newly canonised Saints Francisco and Jacinta, and of the pilgrims at Fatima today, is a simple and pure one that I have the highest admiration for. It was noted that throughout and even after the apparitions in 1917, the three shepherd children (the third being Sister Lúcia) remained 'normal children', children who were simply responding to that invitation from Our Lady and Our Blessed Lord to share in the divine life, to enter into greater relationship with the Lord. They were ready to put aside their own personal desires in order to please God and serve their neighbour – and with such a childlike joy!
This calling from God, to the children, is a calling to each and every one of us to enter into relationship with the Blessed Trinity. The deepest Truth about the Lord is that He is a communion of love: a mutual participation, a sharing in love.
Speaking on the eve of the 13 May canonisations of Francisco and Jacinta (who were brother and sister), the Holy Father said this to Portuguese seminarians: "The encounter with the Madonna was for them an experience of grace that caused them to love Jesus. As a tender and brave teacher, Mary introduced the young seers into the intimate knowledge of the Trinitarian love and led them to feel God as the most beautiful reality of human existence."
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.