Tomorrow, May 13, the Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition to the three shepherd children of Fátima. It is an occasion for us to thank God for the loving care He shows us through His Mother, who is also our Mother. How appropriate that it should fall just the day before Mother’s Day here in the USA. It’ll be a nice reminder to say a prayer for Mom… and to not forget to call her on Sunday!
But what more can be said about Our Lady of Fátima and her apparitions that has not been said? We know the basic story. This Lady from Heaven visited Jacinta and Francisco Marto (to be canonized tomorrow) and Lucía dos Santos six times in 1917, as WWI was raging on. Many miraculous things happened, including cures and unlikely conversions. Most dramatically, at the last apparition, the thousands of people gathered in Fátima witnessed the miracle of the dancing sun. After these events, many in Portugal and beyond began to convert to a deeper faith in the Lord, and popular devotion to Our Lady of Fátima began to spread. We have also heard about the three “secrets” of Fátima, within which Our Lady asked for prayers for the conversion of sinners and for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. And we might remember that on May 13, 1981, Our Lady of Fátima interceded to save the life of Pope John Paul II in the assassination attempt against him.
We can all marvel at the extraordinary nature of the events surrounding the apparitions, prophecies, and miracles of Our Lady of Fátima. For many, these things have worked as catalysts for a deeper conversion to and growth in the faith. However, if we focus on these fantastic occurrences alone, we might miss the simple message that Our Lady came to tell the shepherd children, and through them the whole Church and the world. The Good News of Fátima could be summed up in two words: repent and pray.
Our Lady of Fátima came down from Heaven to remind us that we are sinners. She urges us to turn back to the Lord whom we offend each time we sin, and she warns us about the eternal consequences of our earthly actions. Most importantly, she preaches the Lord’s merciful Redemption. Through her Immaculate Heart, she points us to the Pierced Heart of Jesus, who became man, suffered, died, and rose for our sake and for our salvation.
The second part of Our Lady’s message is a call to prayer. For she knows that the healing of the world can come only when men and women cast their gaze away from the passing things of this world and towards the face of the Lord. She especially recommends the daily praying of the Rosary, for this prayer consists primarily in the contemplation of the mystery of Jesus Christ. This prayer makes us participants in the loving prayers of Mary. It unites us more closely with her and as a result allows us to know and love the Lord more and more intimately. And through Christians’ knowledge and love of God, sinners will return to Him, and His peace will reign on earth.
Tomorrow and throughout this centenary year of the apparitions in Fátima, let us heed Our Lady’s message. By God’s grace obtained through her prayers, let us turn away from sin and seek God with simple hearts. Let us pray Mary’s Holy Rosary and learn from her to contemplate the face of Christ. In this way, we will be strengthened to live the Christian life on earth and to rejoice with God and all His saints in Heaven.
Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us!
Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Fátima, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Image: José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, Our Lady of Fátima and the Children (CC BY-SA 3.0)