From Deacon Charles, Pastoral Associate
The Saturday of this weekend marks the 100th anniversary of a truly extraordinary spiritual event that took place in Portugal.
Beginning on May 13, 1917 and re-occurring on the 13th of each successive month through October of that year, the Blessed Mother appeared to three young shepherd children in a field outside of the town of Fatima.
There are several aspects of these apparitions that have helped confirm their supernatural nature and the veracity of the Blessed Mother’s message delivered to the children. For example, at the end of her final appearance in October—which by this time had attracted huge crowds—thousands of people witnessed a miracle of the sun spinning, dancing, and changing colors. Perhaps more compelling for those who were not in attendance, during the July appearance the Blessed Mother entrusted the children with three “secrets” or visions. The first of these was a glimpse of the terrible suffering of “the souls of poor sinners” in hell. The second was a very accurate prediction of World War II and the spread of Communism. And
the third secret, written down in 1941 but not revealed until 2000, was a prophetic vision of the Church being persecuted throughout the 20th century and the shooting of the Pope–which did occur in 1981.
More important than these apocalyptic visions, however, is the message.
As summarized by Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) the message of Fatima is an exhortation to pray for the salvation of souls and to do penance for their conversion.* This sounds “old fashioned”, I know.
But it only does so because our modern culture does such a good job ridiculing such notions as superstitious. But the truth is otherwise. Just as we see one person’s commerce benefit many others in a properly operating capital economy such as ours, the prayers and sacrifices of some provide spiritual benefits to many others in the heavenly economy.
Anyhow, these notions were not superstitious to Jesus. He exhorted his apostles to pray fervently throughout his earthly ministry. And the very first gift he gave them after his resurrection was the power to forgive sins.
If these things are high on Jesus’ and Mary’s list of “most important things,” I want them to be high on my list as well.
*“The Message of Fatima”: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html