OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Our Lady of Fatima received that title from her apparitions to three children at a little Portuguese town of that name in the year 1917.  The purpose of those appearances was to appeal to the world to say the Holy Rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace among all mankind.  Our Blessed Mother also requested that at the end of each decade of the Rosary the following prayer be recited: O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

It was to three young children, less than 100 years ago that Our Blessed Lord revealed through His Mother a profound message for modern times.  As Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta tended their sheep that Spring day in l9l7, they looked up and saw a beautiful woman clothed in the sun, sent by God.  She told them, "Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world, and the end of war."  She asked them to return on the l3th of each month for five months and promised a sign in her final appearance.

The children responded faithfully to her request, and on October 13, l9l7 a tremendous prodigy happened just as Our Lady had promised. For four minutes, the noontime sun spun around giving off various colors, one after the other. If a person at Fatima that day had on a white shirt -- it would turn red, green and blue as the sun spun around. It stopped and started again for four more minutes, this time giving off even more beautiful colors. Then it stopped again. Then it started again. This time it detached itself from its regular position and began to zigzag in the sky. It "danced" for about four minutes, then started to plummet to the earth. It looked like it was the end of the world. Many people fell on their knees to ask for mercy of God. The sun then returned to its original position in the sky. It was witnessed by over 70,000 people, including both believers and non-believers.  All came away acknowledging that a great miracle had occurred. This was the dramatic climax of the six Fatima apparitions, the message of which was plain:  "Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world." 

We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13th. It was on this day in 1917, that Our Lady made her first appearance to the three shepherd children, Jacinta (age 7), Francisco (age 9) and Lucia (age 10), at Fatima in Portugal.  The lives of the three children of Fatima were entirely transformed by the heavenly apparitions.  While fulfilling the duties of their state with the greatest fidelity, those children seemed now to live only for prayer and sacrifice, which they offered in a spirit of reparation to obtain peace and the conversion of sinners.  They deprived themselves of water during the periods of great heat; they gave their lunch to poor children; they abstained from innocent pleasures and urged one another to the practice of prayer and penance with an ardor comparable to that of the great Saints.

Our Lady communicated with Lucia, the oldest of the three children, in her six monthly appearances.  She asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to take them to Heaven.  "Yes," Our Lady answered, "I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  You, however, are to stay here a longer time.  Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish the devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.  I promise salvation to those who embrace it and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His Throne".

Jacinta seems to have received "a special light to understand intimately and in detail the meanings of these heavenly revelations."  Before leaving for the hospital in 1919, she said to Lucia:  "I am going soon to Heaven.  You will remain still on earth to make known to men that the Lord wishes to spread in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  When you have to speak about it, you will no longer have to hide yourself!  Proclaim openly to the whole world that: It is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary that God wishes to grant us His graces! It is from this Immaculate Heart that we must ask for them! The Sacred Heart of Jesus wishes the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated with His own! It is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary that peace must be asked, because it is to that Heart that the Lord has confided it. How I love the Immaculate Heart of Mary!  It is the Heart of Our Heavenly Mother! Oh! If only I could put into all hearts the fire I feel in my own, which makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so much!"

In each of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, she insisted on praying the Holy Rosary.  "Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world."  Lucia often repeated and emphasized what Our Lady had first recommended to her:  "Yes, she wishes people to recite the Rosary; people must recite the Rosary."  In the final apparition on October 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and silently held out the Brown Scapular.  Lucia had said that the Blessed Mother wants everyone to wear it:  "The Scapular and the Rosary are inseparable."

Lucia spoke to Our Lady of the sick who had been recommended to her. "Yes, I shall cure some of them within the year."  But she went on teaching them to pray rather for the health of souls than of bodies. "Pray!  Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell for not having someone to pray and make sacrifices for them."

Jacinta preached amendment of life with great ardor, not only to sinners, but also to faithful souls!  How she insisted on flight from sin, the practice of the Christian virtues and penance!  "Oh!" she said to the Superioress of the Orphanage in Lisbon, "if men only knew what eternity is, how they would make all possible efforts to amend their lives!  Dear Godmother (she addressed the Superioress in this way), mortification and sacrifice give great pleasure to Our Divine Lord!  Oh! Fly luxury! Fly riches! Love holy poverty and silence.  Be very charitable even towards the wicked!  Never speak evil of anyone and avoid those who do.  Be very patient because patience leads to Heaven. Pray much for sinners! Pray much for Priests, for Religious, for Governments! The sins of the world are too great!  The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh! Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same. Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God. . . . Oh!  Men must do penance!  If they amend their lives Our Lord will still pardon the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come! Priests should occupy themselves only with the affairs of the Church!  They must be pure, very pure." Mother Godinho asked her: "Do you know what it means to be pure?" "Yes, Yes. I know to be pure in body means to be chaste, to be pure in mind means not to commit sins; not to look at what one should not see, not to steal or lie, and always to speak the truth, even if it is hard.  The disobedience of Priests and of Religious to their Superiors and to the Holy Father offends Our Lord very much!  If Government left the Church in peace and liberty to our holy religion, they would be blessed by God. Our Lady said that there are many wars and discords in the world.  Wars are only punishments for the sins of the world.  She stated that she could not stay the arm of her Beloved Son upon the world anymore.  It is necessary to do penance.  If people amend themselves, Our Lord shall still come to the aid of the world.  If they do not amend themselves, punishment shall come." 

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