The annual liturgical commemoration at the Church of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13 recalls the six apparitions of Mary to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in 1917.
Our response to Our Lady’s message has several elements.
– Awareness. We would do well to become students of Fatima. Although many Catholics have taken a quick look at these apparitions of Our Lady, few know Fatima in detail.
Why should we know about Mary’s apparitions? Certainly, the message of Fatima adds nothing to the deposit of faith, which is Holy Scripture and apostolic tradition. Yet Fatima completes divine revelation. Fatima offers us a contemporary lens through which we can view Our Lord and His benevolent plan for us.
God wants the Fatima message of prayer, penance and conversion to take root deep within us.
-Appreciation. What concerns the Mother of God most is our salvation. Such maternal compassion can only move our hearts to gratitude.
The best appreciation we show to Our Lord and Our Lady for the message of Fatima is our sincere conversion. Nothing compares to our change of heart.
– Application. What Our Lady said at Fatima can be considered to be under the umbrella of “encouragement”.
The spiritual authors agree that, based on Our Lady’s words to the children and her subsequent directives to Sister Lucy, we should: receive the sacraments of the church, especially confession and the Eucharist, worthily and often; recite the Rosary daily; wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; pray for sinners, especially for “those most in need of your mercy”; make sacrifices in reparation for sins that offend the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary; fulfill our “daily duty”, which is our personal vocation and what it entails.
Pope Benedict XVI, in the Chapel of the Apparitions of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, on May 12, 2010, said: “Brothers and sisters, in this place it is amazing to think how three children entrusted themselves to the force interior that had inflamed them. in the apparitions of the angel and of our Heavenly Mother. In this place where we have been asked several times to recite the rosary, let us allow ourselves to be drawn by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of the rosary of Mary.
Great efforts and courage are needed to live the message of Fatima. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we respond positively to what Mary wants from us.
— Evangelization. Our Lady of Fatima’s message is good news to share. There is much we can do in our families and parishes to promote Our Lady’s message. We can recite the rosary at home with our family, and we can also ask our pastor for permission to recite it in church before or after mass; making Brown Scapulars which are presented to the pastor so that he can enroll children and adults in the Brown Scapular; provide materials on Mary and Fatima at the church doors for use in parish religious education classes; invite someone familiar with the Fatima apparitions to address the parishioners, etc.
During the same pilgrimage to Fatima in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI clarified what our response to Our Lady should be. “The important thing is that the message, the response of Fatima, is not directed in substance to particular devotions, but precisely to the fundamental response, that is, to continuous conversion, penance, prayer and the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. So here we see the real fundamental response that the Church must give — that we, each of us, must give in this situation. … In a word, we must precisely relearn this essential : conversion, prayer, penance and the theological virtues This is our response… in the end, the Lord is more powerful than evil and Our Lady is for us the visible and maternal guarantee of God’s goodness , which is always the last word in the story.
Fatima is to love God. We want to do what Our Lady asked, that is, to live as the Two Hearts desire.
Fatima is for our times. Fatima is for us.
Msgr. Mangan is on the faculty of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.