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Pope to Fatima: 'Prayer Enlarges Our Hearts, Prepares Them to Receive God’s Gifts'

Apologizes He Cannot Accept All the Invitations He Has Received from Numerous Faithful to Visit Homes, Communities, Cities

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‘Prayer enlarges our hearts and makes them ready to receive God’s gifts.’
Pope Francis stressed this in his video-message, transmitted to the Portuguese people last evening at 6:00 pm local time, on the occasion of the imminent Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, on the centenary of the Apparitions of the Blessed virgin Mary at Cova de Iria in Portugal.
Tomorrow, Pope Francis kicks off his May 12-13 Apostolic Pilgrimage to the Portuguese town of Fatima, for the centenary of the Marian apparitions.
Francis made this observation about prayer as he acknowledged that «in anticipation of that blessed moment, the culmination of a century of blessed moments, you have been preparing yourselves by intense prayer.»
«Prayer enlarges our hearts and makes them ready to receive God’s gifts,» and «gives light to my eyes and enables me to see others as God sees them, and to love others as he loves them.»
Recalling the motto of the pilgrimage, “With Mary, a pilgrim in hope and in peace,» Francis said, «Only a few days remain before our pilgrimage, mine and yours, to the feet of Our Lady of Fatima.»
«These are days of joy in expectation of our encounter in the home of Mary our Mother.»
Noting he has received numerous invitations to visit faithful’s homes, cities and communities, he said that as much as he would have liked to accept each and everyone of them, he unfortunately cannot.
«It is as the universal pastor of the Church that I would like to come before the Madonna and to offer her a bouquet of the most beautiful “blossoms” that Jesus has entrusted to my care (cf. Jn 21:15-17). By this, he said, he means all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood, none excluded!»
«That is why I need to have all of you join me there,» he said, noting «I need to feel your closeness, whether physical or spiritual.»
Entrusting them to Our Lady, Pope Francis said he prays that she «whispers to each one of you: ‘My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path that leads you to God'» (Apparition of June, 1917).
Pope Francis concluded, praying, «May the Lord bless you, and the Virgin Mother protect you!»
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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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