Friday was the anniversary of the third appearance of our Blessed Mother to the children at Fatima in 1917. It gave me pause to stop and reflect upon the visitation, the children, the people of that time, and Mary’s message to the world. Is the meaning of Fatima still applicable today, or is the “Fatima message” an antique, gone with the fulfillment of the three secrets?
In the small village of Fatima, Portugal, a beautiful lady appeared to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta – three children who had been out herding sheep. The lady was soft-spoken, kind, full of peace, and beautiful beyond compare. At the time, Fatima had been through a revolution and was now under the control of a government that had little tolerance, if any, for practicing Catholics. The apparitions, once publicly discovered, were not only disbelieved, but brought about severe trials for the children and their families. The children were even arrested and questioned separately, being told they would be boiled in hot oil if they did not say the apparitions were fake. They stood their ground and never once wavered in their declarations about seeing the Blessed Mother and what she had said. Mary, similar to many of her apparitions, brought messages of conversion, prayer, faith, and love. She promised peace in the world if we followed her instructions, and guaranteed that war, persecution, and suffering would increase to severe levels if we did not.
Since Fatima, there have been countless other claims of visits from Mary, several which have been approved for optional belief by the Catholic faithful. Belief in an apparition is a very personal thing and many choose not to believe in any of them. However, the messages and the requests, whether one believes in the apparitions or not, are tasks that are beneficial to one’s own faith, virtues, spiritual development, and contribution to a peaceful society. Imagine if everyone strove to live out Mary’s requests, whether or not they believed in her appearance on earth.
At Fatima, she has communicated these requests from Heaven:
- A dedication to daily prayer, especially through the Rosary and the wearing of the Brown Scapular.
- Reparation for our sins. To help save souls, Mary promised her help at death’s door if we committed to the First Five Saturdays: On the first Saturdays of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and spend fifteen minutes in meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary with the intent of making reparation.
- Consecration, personally and publicly. The act of consecrations comes from charity and selfless love, the heart and soul of the message.
These requests are nothing extraordinary. They are tasks that will bring us closer to God, enrich our spiritual lives, and be a tool for peace in the world. That, my friends, never becomes “old” and is something that people should always strive for. Mary’s requests with specifics are tools for us to help achieve that and her message and promises are still very much valid in today’s world.
In 1981, six young people in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina proclaimed that the Blessed Mother had appeared to them. Since, they have undergone much persecution as well, similar to the children of Fatima. The apparitions are still occurring, and thousands visit the area annually in hope of receiving a miraculous cure, witnessing a miracle, stepping closer to Heaven, or just to satisfy a curiosity. It has been said that Mary has proclaimed that once these apparitions stop, there will be no more. Ever. This is her last appeal to people, her last opportunity to intervene and to warn us, to offer us the tools to be able to make peace in this world and carve out our individual paths to heaven. Regardless of one’s status in belief of the apparitions, this introduces the question of what is to come in the future, and what will be one’s own status after death?
During these apparitions in Medjugorje, Mary has again brought us requests and tools to use to help bring about peace, love of God and our fellow man. They are:
- Three hours of daily prayer from the heart. Include the Rosary, the Peace Chaplet, Holy Mass, Devotions and Novenas, free form prayers, and works of love and mercy.
- Daily 15 decade Rosary.
- Holy Mass every Sunday, daily if possible.
- Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays from midnight to midnight on bread and water.
- Daily reading of the Bible
- Monthly confession
- Holy Communion – as often as possible
Once again, as the requests of Our Lady at Fatima, these are all things that will increase and enrich our spiritual lives, our relationship with our Creator, and help people find peace. Is Fatima still relevant? I’d conclude more than ever.