The continual apparitions of Our Lady at Medjugorje over the past 40 years are well known to Croatians both in the homeland and abroad, as they are to many faithful Catholics who have devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While in recent time others recall the apparitions of the Virgin in Garabandal, Spain and Akita, Japan, the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917 have captured and enflamed the imagination of many Catholics. In fact, it is difficult to find a Catholic who has not heard of Fatima. When one asks further, most refer to secrets and others to the dancing sun phenomena as important events of Fatima. Certainly these are part of the Fatima message, Fatima goes beyond that and Our Lady’s apparition in 1917 are as relevant today as they were for the world engulfed in war in 1917.
Our Lady came to Fatima in the midst of extreme political turmoil and unrest in Europe. For centuries the Christian faith and culture had been growing steadily weaker. Christian leaders of Europe, were more committed to worldly success, control and power rather than living the faith or living in peace. Despite the call for reason by Pope Benedict XV, the leaders would not listen and resorted to war to resolve their differences. The Pope therefore turned to prayer and in 1916 called on all Catholic children in the warring countries to offer Holy Communion to God for peace. While most of the faithful know of Our Lady’s apparitions, few know that during the prayer and request of Pope Benedict XV, an angel appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima in 1916.
The angelic apparitions served as a preface for the message Mary would later speak. The angel taught the children two different prayers during the apparitions and to offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. The angel said he was the Angel of Peace. In particular, the angel told the children to offer up all their daily crosses, the trials and tribulations they faced each day, for the conversion of sinners, to repair the damage done by sin and to bring peace to their country. He gave them a simple prayer during the first apparition:
“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you and I ask your pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.”
He told the children to repeat this prayer often.
The second angelic apparition encouraged the children to offer sacrifices to God and to pray for peace. It was during this apparition that the angel identified himself as the Angel of Portugal.
The third apparition emphasized the Eucharist as the angel appeared with a Host and Chalice. Lucia received the host, while Jacinta and Francisco received from the chalice. The angel also taught the second prayer as an act of adoration of the Eucharist and reparation for sin. The Angel taught them to pray:
“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”
These often-forgotten angelic apparitions and prayers contain great significance and should be a part of living the message of Fatima as be later discussed. The angel taught those two prayers to the children because they were efficacious and pleasing to God.
While the Angel of Peace was appearing to the children, war raged on in Europe. The following year, 1917, the Holy Father called on all Catholics to join with him on May 5, praying to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, for an end of the war and peace on earth. On the ninth day, May 13, Our Lady appeared to the three children at the “Cove of Peace” in Fatima (Cova da Iria). She asked them whether they were willing to offer their suffering to God, as the Angel had taught them, “as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners.” In later years, Lucia said this was the most important request of Our Lady of Fatima: that we offer all our daily suffering that we cannot avoid as reparation for sins and the conversion of sinners.
Mary appeared a total of six times to the three Fatima children between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917. In each of the six apparitions, Mary instructed the children to pray the Rosary every day, especially for peace in the world and an end to war. During the apparition on July 13, Mary requested that the children add a simple phrase after each mystery:
“O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy”
Also in the July apparition, Our Lady showed the children hell and the tormented souls. She told them that to save souls from going to hell, God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She said,
“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
She said, “If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” In August, Our Lady told the children;
“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.”
This, then, is the heart of Our Lady’s Message at Fatima: to offer up daily prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, and tell others about this request. It is why St. Pope John Paul II said the message of Fatima is more important today than ever, and why Pope Benedict XVI said that Fatima is not just a private devotion; the message is a call from Our Lady to all of her children to participate in the salvation of souls, promising the blessing of peace for our country and the world.
Lastly, Mary promised the children she would reveal her identity during the last apparition in October in which occurred the sun dance. While we often refer to the apparitions as “Our Lady of Fatima,” Mary told the children: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” The revealed identity of Mary and the message she spoke to the three shepherd children of Fatima draws attention to one of the most common forms of Marian devotions — and calls us to pray the Rosary daily. Sadly, this message has been forgotten or ignored by most Catholics and church leaders.
Make your whole day a prayer offering
It is no surprise that Our Lady has asked once again, for devotion to her Immaculate Heart and the recitation of the Rosary. She gave it to her servant St Dominic in the 13th Century to defeat heresy and revived it through Blessed Alan de la Roche in the 14th Century, once again to fight heresy and convert sinners. Many centuries later, she appeared again, this time in Fatima in 1917 to ask us to pray the Rosary daily for peace and to end the war. But have we heard this call to fulfill Our Lady’s request? Mary certainly predicted the war would end, but if the people did not convert another and worse war would occur. As history recalls, World War II started a few decades later as was predicted by Our Lady. Catholics did not take up the message of Mary nor did they accept the urgency of her message. The prayer and devotion to the Rosary has not been taken up by Catholics and is not prayed in many families. Catholics, especially the men, have become effeminate. They prefer worldly pleasures rather than doing what is right, even though it may incur suffering. Catholics are not carrying their cross and offering sacrifices to God. The Angel of Peace instructed us to “accept and bear with submission” our daily trials and tribulations and offer them for the conversion of sinners. Our Lady also spoke of offering our suffering whenever it occurs during the day. Isn’t this what Our Lord meant when He asked us to take up our cross every day and follow Him? In this way we can make our whole day a prayer. This is the urgency of the message.
In spreading the message of Fatima, the World Apostolate of Fatima has been asking Catholics to start each day with the “pardon prayer” of the Angel of Peace:
“O my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee; and I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”
Then offer Our Lord all our suffering and trials we will encounter during the day for love of Him, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady specifically requested. Finally, do our best, whenever anything happens that we don’t like and can’t avoid, to accept it as a daily cross and “offer it up!” for the conversion of sinners. Remember that we can do this for our own loved ones whose souls seem to be in danger. As St. John Paul II taught, if they won’t do penance for their sins, do it for them! In this way, we will be joining with the angels in spiritual warfare for the salvation of souls, growing in holiness and bringing down the blessing of peace on our families, our country, our Church and the world.
Shortly after the apparitions and the well-known apparition of October 13 where the sun gyrated and danced across the sky witnessed by over 70,000 people, Lucia’s two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco died while Lucia went on to become a Sister of St Dorothy and then a Discalced Carmelite nun. As Fr Don Calloway recalls in his book, “26 Champions of the Rosary”, Mary stressed the importance of the recitation of the Rosary. All three children became champions of the Rosary and encouraged others to pray it with them before each apparition. Our Lady particularly emphasized the daily rosary as a means of bringing about an end to the war.
After the Marian apparitions occurred in Fatima, Sr Lucia received several other visitations from Mary. During the apparition of December 10, 1925, Our Lady revealed to Sr Lucia her desire for the Five First Saturday devotion in reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
During the Marian apparition to Sr Lucia, Mary said:
“My daughter, look at my heart surrounded with the thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me”
“The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families …. That cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary” – Servant of God Lucia Dos Santos
The apparitions at Fatima occurred during a time of turmoil. World War I was raging throughout Europe, and the threat of atheism and Russian communism taking over parts of the world was a great concern to Mary. In 2021 we find ourselves in a similar situation. Although not World War III, we find ourselves in probably the greatest spiritual battle of all time. The threat of communist type mandates world-wide, the acceptance of abortion, same sex marriage and wide spread euthanasia has resulted in a culture of death and the consequence of the greatest apostasy the Church has ever seen.
In the convent, Sister Lucia received special insights related to the Message of Fatima, and years later, wrote a letter to the Pope describing one particular insight. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who had seen the original letter, quoted Sister Lucia’s words from the letter: “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and family… nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.” (Radio interview with Cardinal Caffarra following Mass at the tomb of St. Padre Pio, February 16, 2008)
The final confrontation between the Lord and Satan will be over family and marriage. It should be evident to the faithful and those who have eyes to see, that we are living in these times. This message should wake up Catholic men and impress upon them their mission to defend their families from the evil one. God and His Church need us to step up and be Saints! We need to reclaim our masculinity as holy leaders for our wives, our kids and our local parishes. We need to be Champions of the Holy Rosary and promote the sanctity of marriage and the preservation of life within marriage and society. Men need to once again, take up the weapon of the Virgin – the most Holy Rosary. Men need to know they are soldiers of Christ and that Our Blessed Mother is our general on the spiritual battlefield of life. Pray the Rosary daily – to defend your family and Church and to join Mary in crushing the head of Satan. As a parting thought, I want to leave you with a quote from Pope Pius XI:
“If our age in its pride laughs at and rejects Our Lady’s Rosary, a countless legion of the most saintly men of every age and of every condition have not only held it most dear and have most piously recited it but have also used it at all times as a most powerful weapon to overcome the devil, to preserve the purity of their lives, to acquire virtue more zealously, in a word, to promote peace among men.”
Pope Pius XI
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Bog i Hrvati