Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis
When the Holy Father blesses a Private Association of the Faithful such as the International Movement of the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it does not mean that the Vatican has approved the entire Message of the Spiritual Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann.
It simply means that the statutes of the Organization have been approved by the competent authority, the local ordinary Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest, Hungary; and the Holy Father offers an acknowledgment that the Organization has a mission it is pursuing on behalf of the Church, which is within its purview as a lay organization under proper spiritual direction and subject to Canon Law.
While Cardinal Erdo has indeed approved the entire Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann as having nothing against Faith and Morals, and he has further praised the Diary as a “Gift to the Church” in formal remarks, his approval of the Movement in his Diocese does not bind nor prevent other Bishops from making their own judgment. While Cardinal Erdo’s decision should be held in the highest respect according to the documents of the Church, and Pope Benedict has reminded all in the Church of the proper submission to the messages contained in the Diary due to the presiding Bishop’s approval in these matters, the Vatican reserves the right to ultimately decide whether the Diary and the prayers are in complete conformance with Church doctrine. The Movement is currently seeking approval as a Public Association of the Faithful, which, if granted, would allow it to operate in all Dioceses within the Church.
All prayers of the Movement from the Diary must be considered private prayers and prayed in private or in a private group in which all members agree to pray the prayers. If the prayers are prayed in a Church as a private group, the permission of the Pastor must be obtained. No materials should ever be left in the Church or the Parish property without the Pastor’s approval. The Movement has formally operated within the Church for at least 20 years and was also given a letter of praise from Cardinal Francis Stafford. The leaders of the Movement in the United States have pledged complete loyalty to the Church and will unconditionally follow whatever decision the Holy See makes with regard to the Movement.
Pope Benedict on the Love of God in Mary’s Heart
“At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart.”
“Their descendants shall be renowned among the nations […], they are a people whom the Lord has blessed” (Is 61:9). So the first reading of this Eucharist began, and its words are wonderfully fulfilled in this assembly devoutly gathered at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima. Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, I too have come as a pilgrim to Fatima, to this “home” from which Mary chose to speak to us in modern times. I have come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary’s presence and maternal protection. I have come to Fatima, because today the pilgrim Church, willed by her Son as the instrument of evangelization and the sacrament of salvation, converges upon this place. I have come to Fatima to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings. Finally, I have come to Fatima with the same sentiments as those of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, and the Servant of God Lúcia, in order to entrust to Our Lady the intimate confession that “I love” Jesus, that the Church and priests “love” him and desire to keep their gaze fixed upon him as this Year for Priests comes to its end, and in order to entrust to Mary’s maternal protection priests, consecrated men an women, missionaries and all those who by their good works make the House of God a place of welcome and charitable outreach.
These are the “people whom the Lord has blessed”. The people whom the Lord has blessed are you, the beloved Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, with your pastor, Bishop Antonio Marto. I thank him for his words of greeting at the beginning of Mass, and for the gracious hospitality shown particularly by his collaborators at this Shrine. I greet the President of the Republic and the other authorities who serve this glorious Nation. I spiritually embrace all the Dioceses of Portugal, represented here by their Bishops, and I entrust to Heaven all the nations and peoples of the earth. In God I embrace all their sons and daughters, particularly the afflicted or outcast, with the desire of bringing them that great hope which burns in my own heart, and which here, in Fatima, can be palpably felt. May our great hope sink roots in the lives of each of you, dear pilgrims, and of all those who join us through the communications media.
Yes! The Lord, our great hope, is with us. In his merciful love, he offers a future to his people: a future of communion with himself. After experiencing the mercy and consolation of God who did not forsake them along their wearisome return from the Babylonian Exile, the people of God cried out: “I greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being exults in my God” (Is 61:10). The resplendent daughter of this people is the Virgin Mary of Nazareth who, clothed with grace and sweetly marvelling at God’s presence in her womb, made this joy and hope her own in the canticle of the Magnificat: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”. She did not view herself as a fortunate individual in the midst of a barren people, but prophecied for them the sweet joys of a wondrous maternity of God, for “his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:47, 50).
This holy place is the proof of it. In seven years you will return here to celebrate the centenary of the first visit made by the Lady “come from heaven”, the Teacher who introduced the little seers to a deep knowledge of the Love of the Blessed Trinity and led them to savour God himself as the most beautiful reality of human existence. This experience of grace made them fall in love with God in Jesus, so much so that Jacinta could cry out: “How much I delight in telling Jesus that I love him! When I tell him this often, I feel as if I have a fire in my breast, yet it does not burn me”. And Francisco could say: “What I liked most of all was seeing Our Lord in that light which Our Mother put into our hearts. I love God so much!” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 42 and 126).
Brothers and sisters, in listening to these innocent and profound mystical confidences of the shepherd children, one might look at them with a touch of envy for what they were able to see, or with the disappointed resignation of someone who was not so fortunate, yet still demands to see. To such persons, the Pope says, as does Jesus: “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mk 12:24). The Scriptures invite us to believe: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29), but God, who is more deeply present to me than I am to myself (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, III, 6, 11) – has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses. For this to happen, we must cultivate an interior watchfulness of the heart which, for most of the time, we do not possess on account of the powerful pressure exerted by outside realities and the images and concerns which fill our soul (cf. Theological Commentary on The Message of Fatima, 2000). Yes! God can come to us, and show himself to the eyes of our heart.
Moreover, that Light deep within the shepherd children, which comes from the future of God, is the same Light which was manifested in the fullness of time and came for us all: the Son of God made man. He has the power to inflame the coldest and saddest of hearts, as we see in the case of the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:32). Henceforth our hope has a real foundation, it is based on an event which belongs to history and at the same time transcends history: Jesus of Nazareth. The enthusiasm roused by his wisdom and his saving power among the people of that time was such that a woman in the midst of the crowd – as we heard in the Gospel – cried out: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you!”. And Jesus said: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Lk 11:27-28). But who finds time to hear God’s word and to let themselves be attracted by his love? Who keeps watch, in the night of doubt and uncertainty, with a heart vigilant in prayer? Who awaits the dawn of the new day, fanning the flame of faith? Faith in God opens before us the horizon of a sure hope, one which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base one’s life without fear; it demands a faith-filled surrender into the hands of the Love which sustains the world.
“Their descendants shall be known among the nations, […] they are a people whom the Lord has blessed” (Is 61:9) with an unshakable hope which bears fruit in a love which sacrifices for others, yet does not sacrifice others. Rather, as we heard in the second reading, this love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). An example and encouragement is to be found in the shepherd children, who offered their whole lives to God and shared them fully with others for love of God. Our Lady helped them to open their hearts to universal love. Blessed Jacinta, in particular, proved tireless in sharing with the needy and in making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Only with this fraternal and generous love will we succeed in building the civilization of love and peace.
We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: “Where is your brother Abel […] Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).
At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
Pronouncements of Cardinal Péter Erdö
Pronouncements of His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdö, Primate of Hungary, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, concerning the Association “Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Movement.”
1. Quotes taken from his homily on June 1, 2009 at Máriaremete, on the Feastof Pentecost. “…I personally believe that the completion in the spring of thisyear of the revision of the Spiritual Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann and of theRule of the Association of Prayer ‘Flame of Love’ is a sign of the life givingHoly Spirit. This Movement now functions in many dioceses of the world withthe approval of the bishops and also prospers here in Hungary, the country ofits origin. We have found that it brings an authentic Catholic spirituality anddevotion toward the Virgin Mary that is in total conformity with the Catholic faith. May this recognition given in our diocese contribute to the spiritualrenewal of our community of believers and of our people. This Saturday (June 6 at 11:00 a.m.) we will solemnly promulgate this approbation in the Church ofthe Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Kispest.”
2. Pronouncement of Cardinal Péter Erdö in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kispet (June 6, 2009) at the Tenth National Conference of The Flame
of Love (of Hungary).
Cardinal: “Praised be Jesus Christ”
Faithful: “Let Him be eternally praised. Amen!”
“Thank you very much for the kind words of introduction given by your pastor and by the leaders of the ‘Flame of Love Movement’. Certainly the Holy Spirit will work in the Church until the end of time. Frequently, the entire community of the Church accepts inspirations that originally came forth from the heart of a Christian person who was completely dedicated and deeply believing. After examining these impulses, the successors of the apostles eventually welcome them as gifts of God for the whole Church.
For many centuries, the Church institution and charismas were seen as two distinct realities, as if opposed to each other. On the contrary, the Church’s history shows that truly authentic charismas (those special Divine Gifts given to believing persons for the benefit of the Church) and the institutional structure established by Christ’s Will, are in strict correlation with each other.
The most beautiful example of this is the history of religious orders. The great founder of an order is a truly charismatic person, as was St. Francis and St. Ignatius of Loyola. They were an extraordinary phenomenon in their own age. The Church rejoices so much in the value of their spirituality and of that form of life that it represents, that the Church shouts to the founder, ‘Do not go away.’ We want this form of life to remain and this charisma to last in the Church. In this way, the religious orders and their charisma become part of the
I will say even more. Christ Himself, His person and His mission, travels along the road of Church history. Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father sends Me, so I also send you.” (Jn 20:21) Therefore, the Church on earth, as a visible community, carries on the mission of Christ. It follows that the Church is not merely an external human organization. Rather, she lives within the world. Also, the Church is not just some invisible, mysterious reality of grace. The same Church is both an invisible reality and a visible society. These are not two distinct things. Sometimes human frailty and human history produce an obstacle. However, at a given moment of history, there appears in the Church something beautiful, a new possibility for the Church. I believe that this is true of the “Flame of Love Movement”.
A believing woman, Elizabeth, prays and hears voices in her soul. She perceives that these wonderful voices come from the Virgin Mary. No one asks – since this is not important – what is the nature of the experiences that she describes in her Spiritual Diary. This is not the task which the Church has undertaken in these years of judgement. It has not tried to discern some special happening or supernatural phenomenon. What we have deeply and seriously studied is the content of the message.
While we could not yet officially deal with this matter in Hungary, this spirituality spread to many countries throughout the world and has produced positive fruits. Before making this decision in Budapest, we have spoken with bishops, priests and people from other countries. We have also talked with pastors of souls in our own country. They have testified that the Flame of Love produces fruits in the lives of individual persons and of communities. These testimonies were very positive and we know that a good tree produces good fruits.
After this, we established a commission. Various priests examined the written documents, including the Spiritual Diary itself, the documentation from foundations outside of Hungary and the recognitions that local bishops in many parts of the world (from Brazil to Mexico) have given to this Movement as a private association of the faithful. Just a short time ago, this investigation was finished. As a conclusion, our Church recognizes as authentic, in accord with the Catholic faith, all of the material contained in the Spiritual Diary. Also, this archdiocese considers that the activity, life and rule of this community is in accord with all that characterizes movements of spirituality and authentic communities of the Catholic Church.
At this point, the entire Church receives this charisma as a gift from God. Instead of forgetting about this gift, we ought to place it on the lampstand so that it lights up everything in the house. Having already seen the effects of grace poured out in many other countries, we pray that this charisma shine upon the entire country of Hungary. For this reason, I have asked the senior director of the Archbishop’s office to read this decree.”
Excerpts from the official Decree
(read by Canon Laszló Süllei)
Our Lady of Hungary, pray for us!
With these words, I establish in the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest the ‘Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Movement’, as an ecclesial association of the faithful in Christ. It is a private association enjoying a juridical personality.
At the same time, I also approve for this Archdiocese the Statutes of this Association accepted in San Paulo, Brazil, on August 15, 2008 and as approved in the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, Mexico, on December 11, 2008. I ask God to give His abundant blessings for the life and activities of this
Association: May your activities serve the spiritual renewal of our homeland!
Budapest, Palm Sunday, 2009
With my blessings as pastor,
Cardinal, Primate and Archbishop
On October 22, 1996, Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz (Archdiocese of Guayaquil, Ecuador) approved the statutes of the Flame of Love Movement and asked the Holy Father to give approval so that the Flame of Love would be accepted in the whole Church. The Vatican, through Cardinal Francis Stafford, responded to Cardinal Ruiz for the Holy Father: “I encourage you to continue so the Association bears abundant fruits among its members and the whole Church. I invite you to continue your duties as spiritual director.”
Letter of Cardinal Bernardino Echeverría Ruiz
With great devotion and emotion, we have read this book, Flame of Love, translated [into Spanish] by Father Gabriel Róna, S.J., and presented for approval prior to its publication. We must confess, with due sincerity, that we have found in the pages of this book the most beautiful and profound lessons of spiritual life, so much so that not only we believe it is appropriate to give the requested authorization, but also to recommend this book, which will contribute to deepen the demands of the Christian life.
Flame of Love is a new name given to that immense and eternal love that Mary professes to all human beings, for whom Christ offered His Life and shed His Blood. Likewise, Flame of Love is the name that expresses the love that Mary has for her children. Flame that enlightens, flame that warms up, flame that burns, flame that, while burning in the heart of Mary wants also to burn in the heart of her children, especially on Thursday and Friday, the days chosen for the prayer of reparation.
With this Flame of Love, which is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we discover innumerable treasures of the five wounds of Christ, which are not only the refuge of the soul, but also the lesson of the Cross we need to understand when we make the sign of the Cross repeating one of the most simple and profound prayers. By the Holy Cross, He delivers us from our enemies. The Cross is the most powerful weapon to defeat the devil, the evil spirit, who dominates the world more and more every day.
The Flame of Love must be ignited to save all Christians and to save families. It will save fathers and mothers, and will help to sanctify priests. They will have a more effective ministry as they grow more like Christ. This Flame of Love should illumine every moment of the Christian life – the moments of suffering, of illness, of agony and of death. Even after death, this Flame of Love will continue to light the hope of those in Purgatory.
While giving the authorization to publish this beautiful book of love, we express the most fervent wishes that it will reach many and become an instrument drawing all closer to God, unceasingly enlightened by this eternal Flame of Love, which is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Bishop Bernardino Echeverría Ruiz
Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador
Letter from Monsignor Ralph J. Chieffo