The Salvation of Our Century (Part 2)

Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Fatima Shrine on Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, DEC. 8, 2011 ( For today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception, ZENIT spoke with Franciscan Father Cesare Cuomo of the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a collaborator at the Fatima Shrine.

Part 1 of this interview was published Wednesday.

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ZENIT: How can Marian devotion be a part of the New Evangelization of which Benedict XVI speaks so much?

Father Cuomo: Our Lady is above all a model of evangelization because she sanctified herself, living the Word of God by incarnating it and with her example of life was an evangelizer. For example, when she went to her cousin Elizabeth, not only did she take material help to her cousin, but also an announcement. To seek, hence, with commitment to reproduce her way of life, the virtues she practiced, is already a form of evangelization. Moreover, when we are filled with her, it is almost natural for us to have an apostolic zeal, even just with words. If you allow yourself to be touched by Our Lady, she leads you automatically to bear witness with courage even in situations where humanly you might feel inhibited or timid.

ZENIT: In your opinion, is a rediscovery of the figure of Mary necessary today or is everything already known?

Father Cuomo: Yes, indeed! In fact this year we of the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are carrying out a series of Marian catecheses where we wish to reflect further in a simple but profound way, on all the aspects of Our Lady’s life, beginning with her maternity and her virginity up to all those aspects connected to the type of reparation that she herself requested at Fatima. In practice, we choose an annual theme to then penetrate deeper in it during the following six months. From 2000 to 2010, for example, the theme was the Commandments, whereas from 2010 to 2017 it will be apparitions. The theme for next year began in November, and it is Our Lady’s apparitions, with the title of “Do you wish to offer yourself to God?” This catechetical itinerary, moreover, also serves as a preparation for the centenary of the Fatima Shrine.

ZENIT: You just mentioned the types of reparation requested by Our Lady herself. What is this all about?

Father Cuomo: In the apparition in Fatima on December 10, 1925, Our Lady said: “My heart is pierced by thorns,” asking that the five Saturdays of the month be consecrated to her.

Five, that is, as the number of offenses against Our Lady:

— Not believing that she is the Mother of God and Mother of men

— Not believing in her virginity, either before, during or after the birth

— Not believing in her Immaculate Conception

— Offending her in images

— Inciting children to show contempt towards her

Our Lady requested the Saturdays of the month to «make reparation» for these offenses, indeed it can be said that the heart of the Fatima message is in fact reparation.

ZENIT: How does the world see Mary today?

Father Cuomo: So often a somewhat mediocre idea is transmitted of the Mother of God. In practice, scorning Our Lady in the prerogatives that we mentioned earlier, she is trivialized, becomes a woman like any other and also her power of intercession is altered. We, instead, must have a lofty idea of Our Lady, we must discover her beauty in such a way as to have greater confidence in her power, in the efficacy of her intercession in our favor. Often, however, even many Mariology books do not give the best of the extraordinary figure of the Virgin, but describe her in a way that I would define as almost poetical.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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