Fatima – 100 years later: Heeding Mary’s call to repentance, consecration and salvation

by Paul Braun | New Earth

Fatima

The beautiful Fatima Grotto placed outside of St. Anthony’s Church in Mooreton.Father Peter Anderl is the pastor at St. Anthony’s.

“O Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima, with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence, we unite our voices to those of all the generations that call you blessed.” Pope Francis, October 13, 2013.

On May 13, the world will mark the 100th anniversary of the first apparition, or appearance, of Our Lady to three peasant children in the Portuguese village of Fatima. Pope Francis will lead the festivities to commemorate what many call the most significant of all Marian apparitions.

Pope St. John Paul II during his reign as pontiff said the message of Fatima is more important now than ever. Considering today’s world headlines and potential conflicts, his words seem ominously prophetic.

What is the significance of the appearance of Our Lady and her peace plan from heaven, which among Church scholars is the remedy to bring lasting peace? Some of the highlights of her appearances concern the Holy Trinity, penance, converting sinners, the Holy Eucharist and praying the rosary. Three secrets of Fatima have been revealed over time, and a miracle, called the Miracle of the Sun, occurred on October 13, 1917. Almost 100,000 people saw it, including several news journalists gathered in anticipation of a sign promised by Our Blessed Mother.

Preparing the world

Three angel apparitions occurred for the three children, a significant foreshadowing of things to come. The three are Jacinta Marto, age 7, her brother Francisco Marto, age 8, and their nine-year-old cousin Lucia Dos Santos, near their home. They were tending sheep in a pasture in late spring when, according to Lucia, a strong wind blew and an angel appeared to them.

“While coming closer to us, the angel said: 'Do not fear! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me,’ recounted Lucia. “And kneeling on the earth, he bent his forehead to the ground and taught us this prayer: 'Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of hell. And bring all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of mercy.”

The second angelic appearance happened later in the summer while the children were playing. He told them to pray and to sacrifice themselves to God the Most High. Lucia asked the angel how they were supposed to make sacrifices, and the angel responded: "Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, you will draw peace upon your country. I am its guardian angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you."

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Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia as they looked at the time of Our Lady’s appearance to them 100 years ago this month (Google Images)

The angel appeared to the children one last time, in the fall. Lucia later recalled: "We got up again to see what was happening, and we saw the angel again, who had in his left hand a chalice over which was suspended a host, from which some drops of blood fell into the chalice." Then the angel placed the host on Lucia's tongue and served the chalice to both Francisco and Jacinta. After the children had celebrated Communion, the angel told them: "Eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful people. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God."

These three appearances set the stage for what would be the first of six apparitions by Our Lady to the children, although they had no idea at the time of the angelic appearances why they were blessed by his visits. On May 13, 1917, all that changed.

May 13, 1917

The children were tending their sheep in fields of the Cova da Iria near Fatima, a few miles from their home. There were flashes of lightning, and the children were preparing to go home due to the coming storm. But then a beautiful young woman dressed in white appeared to them over an oak tree. The Lady said she was from heaven and wanted the children to return to the same place at the same hour on the 13th of each month for six months. The Lady then said to the children: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta agreed. She then asked the children to pray the Rosary every day “in order to obtain peace for the world, and an end of the war” (World War I was raging at that time).

This first visit was significant in that Our Lady gave the children a choice to do God’s will, and they readily accepted. The Blessed Virgin also reemphasized the importance of saying the Holy Rosary daily.

“The greatest significance of all is to know that God is with us, He warned us ahead of time and is preparing us through grace, but we need to know and live the Fatima message, says Father Peter Anderl, Pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in Mooreton, and spiritual director of the Fargo Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF). The WAF, USA, Inc., originally known as The Blue Army, began in 1947. The name was changed when the Vatican raised the organization to the status of Public International Association of the Faithful, which was permanently decreed in 2010. The apostolate’s mission is to help people learn, live and spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima in communion with the Church and in concert with The New Evangelization.

June 13, 1917

As promised, on June 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin appeared again, instructing the children to continue to say the Rosary every day, and for Lucia to learn to read and write. Lucia was also told she would live longer than the other two children, and that she should spread the message of Mary throughout mankind. She told Lucia that God wants to “establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and those souls will be loved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.”

The youngest Fatima seer, Jacinta, who will be canonized along with her brother, Francisco, later this year, said: “Tell everybody…that the Heart of Jesus wishes the Heart of Mary be venerated at His side. Let them ask for peace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for God has given it to her.”

July 13, 1917

During this third apparition, Our Lady again told the children to continue praying the Rosary for the conversion of sinners. She also promised to show the world a sign in October, 1917 if the children continued to meet her in the grotto on the 13th of each month.

Most significantly, she also revealed to them three secrets. The first was a glimpse of what hell was like. The vision terrified the children. But the Blessed Virgin reassured them: “You have seen hell where the souls of sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”

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Statues of Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco are present at the Fatima Grotto at St. Anthony’s in Mooreton. (Paul Braun/New Earth)

The second secret was a prediction that the World War would end, but Our Lady warned if people did not stop offending God, a worse war would break out during the reign of Pope Pius XI (who had not yet been elected, yet she named him by name). To prevent the war, she asked that Russia be dedicated to her Immaculate Heart to prevent the damage Russia would bring on humanity (many believe she was referring to communism).

The third secret, not revealed until the year 2000, was a vision shown to the children of a bishop dressed in white (who the children thought was the pope) walking towards a mountain accompanied by priests and other religious figures. As they continue their journey they come upon a village in ruins, and the bishop in white prays over the dead people strewn about. As the pilgrims reach the top of the mountain, the bishop in white kneels before a cross, and soldiers kill him and the others. There has been great debate on the meaning of this third secret since it’s revelation. Some believe it referred to the attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life on May 13, 1981, the 64th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady at Fatima. Others say it is a glimpse into an as-of-yet unfulfilled future event.

August 13, 1917

During the time of the first three appearances, the children told their parents and others about the apparitions, but they were not believed. The children were prevented by civil authorities from going to the grotto for the August apparition. However, the Blessed Virgin appeared to the children on August 19, urging them again to pray the Rosary and to “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.”

September 13, 1917

By the time the fifth apparition came about in September, word was circulating across the region of the Blessed Virgin’s appearances to the children. Thousands of onlookers gathered to witness the vision, but Our Lady could only be seen by the three children. She said to them: “Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. God is pleased with your sacrifices.” Lucia said she was told to ask Our Lady many things, the cure of some sick people, curing of a deaf mute, etc. Our Lady replied: “Yes, I will cure some, but not others. In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

Miracle of the Sun – October 13, 1917

According to published accounts and the reflections of Lucia, a crowd of 70,000 or more gathered in pouring rain at the site of the apparitions in response to the children’s claim that a miracle would occur on that day as Our Lady promised “so that all may believe.” The Blessed Virgin revealed herself to the children, saying: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” She also instructed that a chapel in her honor be built in the grotto. She reminded the children to continue praying the Rosary every day, and revealed that the war was going to end and the soldiers would be returning to their homes. “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended,” Our Lady told them.

Then, as promised, at the appointed time in the middle of a rainstorm, the clouds broke up and the sun was seen as a disk spinning in the sky, throwing off great rays of fantastic colors. As one columnist reported, “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd the sun trembled and danced.” Suddenly it seemed to fall until it almost reached the earth, but then it stopped, slowly making its way back into the sky. Many of those present “wept and prayed” in recognition of the miracle they had just witnessed. People more than 30 miles away also witnessed the miracle.

The children also say Our Lady appeared to them in white wearing a blue cape, and she was joined by St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, who blessed the world.

After Fatima

Our Lady revealed to the three children in June of 1917 that two of them, Francisco and Jacinta, would be taken early in life. In October of 1918, Francisco did become gravely ill. His sickness worsened over the course of that winter, yet his faith remained strong. He received his first communion in April of 1919, and died a few days later on April 4.

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Pope John Paul II with Sr. Lucia (Google Images)

Jacinta would pass on not long after. She came down with what would eventually be diagnosed as tuberculosis in late 1918. Her illness progressed through that year and into 1920. While she lay in the hospital, she was visited at least three times by Our Lady. She accepted her sufferings as an opportunity to suffer for the conversion of sinners. Jacinta died in February of 1920. Her body was later exhumed and moved to the Basilica of Our Lady in Fatima, next to her brother, Francisco. When her body was exhumed, it was found to be incorrupt.

Left to keep the revelations and promises of Fatima alive through the rest of the 20th century was Lucia. In 1921, through the will of God and the urging of her bishop, she was sent away from her village to join the Dorothean Sisters of Tuy, and eventually to the Carmelite Sisters of Coimbra, and lived there as a member of the order for the rest of her life. Our Lady appeared to her periodically. Sister Lucia was an outspoken advocate of the promises of Our Lady at Fatima until her death on February 13, 2005.

Fatima’s meaning for today

Our Lady’s warnings are being acted out across the world today. Marriages are falling apart, abortion is widespread, reverence for the Holy Eucharist is waning, the prevalence of the dictatorship of relativism, and so much more. Our Lady said that these evils are the result of spreading the errors of Russia. But according to Father Anderl, all is not lost.

“The Fatima message is really the close of the Age of Our Lady. She’s leading us toward a whole new age of the Holy Spirit, where we will have a tremendous resurgence, but it won’t happen until we have the full conversion of Russia, and we are nowhere near that point.”

Our Lady’s Plan of Peace for the conversion of Russia and for world peace was revealed and crystalized to Sister Lucia in 1925, and included promises of the First Saturdays. The faithful may assist in bringing about Mary’s Peace Plan from Heaven, while obtaining the assistance of Mary to gain Christ’s promise of eternal life by:

• Going to confession and receiving communion in a state of grace on the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive first Saturdays.

• Saying the Rosary on five consecutive first Saturdays.

• Offering Our Lady 15 minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary on five consecutive first Saturdays.

Along with the commitment of First Saturday, Mary asks us to pray the Rosary daily for world peace, and to make reparation for our sins and those of the whole world by daily offering our sacrifices, sufferings and intercessory prayer for the swiftness of the coming of the era of peace she promised through the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

What will also help, according to Father Anderl, is for families in the Fargo Diocese to make the decision to enthrone their homes and families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Bishop Folda has given his blessing for the enthronements to take place in the homes of the faithful who wish to make this commitment.

“This enthronement is actually saying, ‘Lord I give you permission to live in me, reign in me, and provide for me, as I offer myself to you as a living offering of your love,” explains Father Anderl. “Now, we have free will. We can say ‘no, I want to do it my own way,’ but it’s letting go of our self-reliance, our self-sufficiency and above all our selfishness, and that’s really part of living our baptism. I have seen how blessed families consecrated to the two hearts are.”

Families who want to take part in an enthronement may contact their local parish priest to set up a day for the blessing, and enthronement certificates and booklets may be obtained through their local parish or at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.

“The most significant message to the world one-hundred years after the first Fatima apparition is hope,” says Father Anderl. “God’s will shall not be thwarted, and no matter how dark at times moments seem to be, His triumph, and the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart will come. He’s letting us know that with hope He’s right there with us, and He’s moving us through these times to a very glorious and wonderful time to come. But we have to do our part as well.