BROTHER GINO SPEAKS ON THE MESSAGE OF FATIMA
In this article we begin by quoting from Father Basil1 Arthadeva’s article in the magazine “Christ to the World”, in which he speaks about Brother Gino’s booklet Live the Message of Fatima.2 We go on to give in some detail, words of Brother Gino himself, on living the Message of Fatima, as he has explained in various writings, conferences and interviews. He has helped many people, especially youth, to come to a greater knowledge and understanding of the Message of Our Lady of Fatima. We are publishing this article with the hope that more people will come to have a better understanding of how to put into practice in their own lives what Our Blessed Mother asked of us at Fatima.
Brother Gino, ordained a deacon in 1979, is a brother of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. This Congregation was founded in Italy in 1826 by Ven. Father Pio Bruno Lanteri (and is not the same as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate), for the following purposes: the preaching of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, the combating of current errors, the diffusion of good books and the formation of the clergy.
As Father Basil informs us, “Brother Gino is the center of an extraordinary movement of sacerdotal and religious vocations. Since 1971 over 200 young men, a majority from the United States, have come to San Vittorino (a town near Rome, Italy) to live with the Brother with the intention of becoming Oblate priests and religious. Thirty of them have since been ordained as priests or deacons, eight have taken their vows as brothers, and one hundred and thirty others are in the various stages of philosophy, novitiate and theological formation. In 1979 the Brother founded a pious association for women religious, called the Oblate Sisters of the Virgin Mary of Fatima, and girls from four different continents have joined it, 33 being already professed.” They have a total of approximately 70 members at present.
Young people with religious vocations are attracted to San Vittorino by the clarity and vigor with which Brother Gino preaches and lives the Message of Our Lady of Fatima. Many Catholics follow the Message of Fatima in a general way but would follow it more truly if it were clearly and fully made understandable to them. Brother Gino in his writings and preaching and conferences with young people, has been explaining the Fatima Message and helping others to know and to practice it.
Our Lady’s appeal at Fatima is basically an appeal for prayer, especially the Rosary, and for penance. The penance She asks is for people to follow the Ten Commandments and diligently fulfill the duties of their state in life.
Praying the Rosary, which Pope John Paul II calls his favorite prayer, leads us, with the help of God, to a profound and practical knowledge of the Gospel. In meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, we think of the virtues that Jesus and Mary exemplified in their lives, and we try to bring these virtues into our own lives by following their example. And in this way we can come to really live the Gospel.
When Our Lady of Fatima asks of us the penance of doing our daily duties and following the Ten Commandments, She is reminding us that our obligations come before works which are done over and above duty. For example, we must first be charitable to those in our own family and those with whom we come in contact in our daily lives and work, before we can sincerely show charity to the world at large. Many people today think they need not concern themselves with some of the Ten Commandments as long as they are doing some good work towards helping their neighbor. For example, some might mistakenly think that they are good Christians because they go regularly to Mass and help the poor, and yet they consider themselves excused from the obligation of being kind and considerate towards members of their own family. But it is necessary to keep all the Ten Commandments, for as St. Francis de Sales says: “Those who do not observe all God’s commandments are neither devout nor even good.” (Introduction to the Devout Life)
Brother Gino reminds us how to live as good Christians, and to build holiness by following the Ten Commandments and learning the virtues, which might seem little or insignificant to us but which are the foundation for sanctity.
Christ Loves Us
Here are some words of Brother Gino’s on the love that Christ has for us, as he explained to a group of young people recently:
Christ loves us. He loves us to the point of becoming for us in the Holy Eucharist daily nourishment for life and for eternal life. Look at those enamored of the Holy Eucharist. Look at our saints. What lively hearts they had. All was alive in them with Jesus Christ.
Consider the many slaves of materialism who no longer nourish themselves with that Bread of Life. Even if they walk and run about the streets of our own land … or throughout the world, they are among the dead, the poor dead. Their actions speak each day only of death.
Blessed Jesus, however, who loves us so much, wishes to resurrect Himself in those dead hearts. He asks us all to give Him a hand by way of sacrifice and prayer in accomplishing their resurrection. First of all, He asks us to be alive ourselves in His divine life and in perfect harmony with His Heart, without fears of any kind.
Frequently, however, we are afraid of Jesus. Have you not said to Him sometimes, “Jesus, I wish to be close to You. I want You to make me a saint. I want You to free me from an ugly vice.” Then, miserable souls that we are, we later add, “Don’t come too close … I am afraid that You will ask too much of me.” Perhaps only five minutes before we had prayed in church, “I want …” and, barely out the door, add, “Don’t come too close!” Why is there so much fear of the greatest friend we have?
My dear friends, do not believe that Jesus asks too much of us or that He might hurt us. It is the world that asks too much of us, and too often we follow its call. The world does not place a cross with Jesus on our shoulders. Rather, a worldly mentality forces a huge cross of great worldly burdens on us, and without Jesus it is not easy to carry. And it comes to the point of placing the blame on Our Lord for the cross that we ourselves have constructed with our own hands. We then complain to Him, “Jesus, what are You doing?” “Jesus, where are You?”
Our Blessed Lord draws near, He lifts the heavy cross of the world from us and gives us His own, which is light. Jesus does this as a true friend and a true brother, because He has the biggest and most loving heart in all the world. In that heart we will find all things: goodness, charity, mercy, meekness, patience and generosity. That Heart is always open to us, no matter what hour of the day or night we knock, Jesus never rejects anyone and never makes anyone wait. He receives everyone immediately, giving goodness and comfort to all.
Our Lady of Fatima has emphasized the importance of prayer, and the Angel of Fatima encouraged the children to “Pray very much”. Brother Gino explains this: “The Virgin, Our Loving Mother, has shown us the most valid means to be good Christians. The first means is prayer. This is the greatest means; that of speaking to God, and of being bound to Him. Our brethren the Saints, who were, like us, travelers passing through life upon this earth, have been great men of prayer, having realized the value of it.”
“The second means is the call of Our Lady to frequent the Sacraments. Our Lady has asked us to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of each month for five months, but She means us to continue to do this always. The soul of one who does this becomes very rich with a continuous union with Christ, and thus the soul offers these acts not only for himself, but for the entire Mystical Body of Christ in the world.”
Speaking of the children of Fatima, Bro. Gino says: “Through the praying of the Rosary, and also through the reception of the Sacraments, man has an extraordinary power. Almost without effort, we find ourselves transformed. If those children had not had the grace of the Sacraments, they would not have had the courage and strength to bring with such clarity the Message of Our Lady of Fatima to the world and to suffer the trials which they endured.”
Mortification and Penance
Brother Gino asks us to practice mortification of the tongue and ears, as well as of the mind and heart. “Without sacrifices, without renunciations and mortifications, it is highly difficult to be good Christians. Christian faith is love, sacrifice, denial of ourselves, and martyrdom. We must bear witness to Christ by martyrdom; in the Colosseum of yesterday, of today, of tomorrow. We do not bear witness by empty words.” Brother Gino also said: “The Blessed Mother has insisted upon penance. We should practice penance and sacrifices every day.”
“Usually when we think of penance we think of the unusual saints who have done extraordinary penances. Blessed are they in the great love they gave to Our Lord, but what Our Lady is asking of us is simply to do the things which we must, and to do them well.”
Another penance asked of us at Fatima is to accept the sufferings God sends us. The Angel of Fatima said: “Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings that the Lord may send you.”
“The Blessed Mother is asking us to live the Christian life in our daily duty. This will not be too difficult if we continue in our devotion to the Blessed Mother and avail ourselves of the means She has suggested, the Sacraments and prayer as often as possible. In this way we will have certitude that the Blessed Mother will form us into new men in Jesus. Only in this way can we have peace and happiness. Otherwise we are sad, since we become slaves of sin rather than living in freedom from sin.”
1: Father Basil Arthadeva is a priest of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. He was professor of philosophy for a number of years in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and he took his doctorate studies in philosophy at Oxford in England. He is currently editor of the international missionary magazine published in three languages, “Christ to the World”, which has been publishing for about twenty years, and which is published with the imprimatur of the Vicariate of Rome. The magazine “Christ to the World” has received encouraging assistance from Cardinal Rossi who is in charge of the congregation for Missionary Activity in the Church.
Pope John Paul II has had a letter sent to Father Basil encouraging him in his apostolate of this magazine. Father Basil has known Brother Gino over the past ten years. He first met him in 1972. He has lived at San Vittorino in the same religious house with Brother Gino for at least ten months, and he now sees Brother Gino each week as he goes out to San Vittorino to hear confessions of the pilgrims there.
To receive the magazine, Christ to the World in English, write directly to: Father Basil Arthadeva; Christ To The World; Via Di Propaganda 1-C; Rome, Italy.
2: The book is not available in English but if it does become available in English, we will try to inform our readers.