The year 2017 is marked by great yet completely opposing anniversaries: 100 years have passed since the Mother of God appeared in Fatima in 1917 and the October revolution broke out in Russia. These important events in world history also formed the context in which Aid to the Church in Need was founded in 1947. A temporary initiative, called to life immediately after the war to alleviate the hardship of expellees, that developed over the next 70 years into a global spiritual movement calling for a “rebellion of the heart”. This “revolution” is not based on the false myths of godless communism or humanistic relativism, but on the reality of the cross of Jesus Christ, his Pierced Heart. Lacking this reality, everything becomes “post-factual” – using the international word of the year 2016 – where only feelings and human opinions are of import. Love, however, is always concrete. Thousands upon thousands of facts could be cited from the 70-year history of Aid to the Church in Need, all of which truly became a source of hope. However, this is only the case because of one reality: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved (cf. John 3:16-17). Hope that does not issue from this source, but from the messianism of a system, ultimately ends in absurdity and nihilism.
For 70 years, most of the Western world has not been beset by war. However, we cannot truly say that peace has reigned. On a number of occasions, Pope Francis has spoken of World War III, which the world has already entered into “piecemeal”. Can we still prevent the fires of war from spreading across the entire world? We cannot say. But we do know – as promised by Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Holy Rosary – that “in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph”. May we then hope that we can draw nearer to this triumph of love on the jubilee of Fatima? Of course! But not if we keep our hands resting in our laps and our heads down.
By keeping this faith, 2017 should be a milestone for us. As a pontifical charity, we would like to intensify our efforts in helping the Church carry the triumph of the heart all over the world. It is about applying love, which is more than just duty and benevolence, but also calls for sacrifice and thus has its source in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Blessed Romanian martyr Vladimir Ghika aptly described the connection between the Eucharistic liturgy and the “liturgy of charity”: “The poor man sees Christ come to him in the manifestation of the one who helps him – and the benefactor recognises the Suffering Christ in the poor man whom he bends down to. This is why there is one true liturgy, because when the good deed, if done properly, is complete, Christ can be found on both sides. Christ the Saviour comes to the Suffering Christ and both are united in the Risen Lord, who is glorified and who blesses. In this way, the Eucharistic liturgy that was celebrated on the altar is continued in the service to the poor. It is nothing more than extending Holy Mass throughout the day and all over the world, just like circles that, beginning with Holy Communion in the morning, spread out concentrically in ever greater circles.”
This is the programme that we should follow at Aid to the Church in Need for the next 70 years.