The message Our Lady delivered at Fatima is destined for people of every nation. It is destined for us, here and now. It demands a concrete, practical response by anyone who has ears to hear—more so today in our perilous times than at any time since 1917. Following Our Lady’s loving directives means becoming students and disciples of Fatima and even becoming missionaries, proclaiming this “good news.” The message is clear: Fatima is for us, here and now. Our Lady awaits our unhesitant, wholehearted “yes” to God.
We would do well to become students of Fatima. Although many Catholics have given a cursory glance to these apparitions of Our Lady, very few know Fatima in detail. Thus, there exists a general lack of understanding about what Our Blessed Mother proclaimed there and, consequently, what is required of us.
Perhaps the most basic question is: why should we know about Mary’s appearances at Fatima? True, the Fatima message adds nothing to the Deposit of Faith that is derived from the composite of Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition. Yet, Fatima complements the Deposit of Faith. It is in accord with God’s Revelation to us. Fatima offers us a contemporary lens through which we may consider Our Lord, all that has been disclosed about Him and His benevolent plan for us.
Although Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven nearly 2,000 years ago, He still intensely cares for us. He has never stopped loving us and protecting us from harm.
Our Lord, fully aware of the challenges of our era, allowed His Mother to grace our earth with her appearances to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. Christ gave Mary this singular mission: to go to Fatima to proclaim the Holy Gospel in a way that would attract modern ears.
Since God never does anything without reason, He intended that the Fatima message find root deep within us. He has done His part. The time has come for us to do ours.
Now is the opportunity for us to learn Fatima! With less than five years before the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions, we should exert ourselves in understanding well what Our Lady said in 1917 and how her comforting and challenging words affect and inspire us to reach new spiritual heights.
Mary’s words are vital. They are meant for us. Her message is highly significant for our lives. It is crucial that we know what she taught us at Fatima and what, in turn, she expects from us.
Gratitude is always to be our response to who God is and what He does for us. That He sent Our Lady to Fatima in order to remind us of what is truly important is only another reason to be thankful to Him.
Mary is Mother par excellence. As our celestial Father is moved by our needs and difficulties, so is Mary. Like any kind earthly mother, Our Lady knows what is good for us and seeks our benefit.
What most concerns the Mother of God is our everlasting salvation. How she wants that each of us enters Paradise! Such maternal compassion for her sons and daughters can only move our hearts to joy and gratitude.
We treasure Our Blessed Mother and her stirring words to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. We know well that Mary came for us! God chose her to help us on the arduous path to Heaven.
The best and most lasting appreciation that we can show Our Lord and Our Lady for the Fatima message is our sincere conversion. Nothing compares to our genuine change of heart. This is abiding proof that we have listened carefully to what Our Lady said and have tried accordingly to live fully her wise directives, which are, of course, the same wise directives of her Divine Son.
Much of what Our Lady said at Fatima can be seen as being under the umbrella of “encouragement.” Mary wished for all who heard her to put into practice what she conveyed to the little shepherds.
No one can accuse Our Blessed Mother of using confusing language at Fatima. She clearly and concisely referred to what the trio—and, by extension, we—must do: we must pray and do penance! It really could not be simpler.
Spiritual authors are agreed that, based on Our Lady’s words to the children and her subsequent directives to Sister Lucia, we and all who seek to follow Christ are to do the following: (1) receive the Church’s Sacraments, particularly Confession and the Most Holy Eucharist, worthily and often; (2) recite the Most Holy Rosary daily; (3) wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; (4) pray for sinners, especially—in the words with which we address Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Fatima ejaculation—“those in most need of Thy mercy”; (5) make sacrifices in reparation for the sins that offend the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary; (6) perform our “daily duty,” that is, fulfill our personal vocation and that which it entails.
In speaking of the splendor of the Most Holy Rosary, Pope Benedict XVI, in the Chapel of Apparitions at the Shrine 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 interior force which had enflamed them in the apparitions of the Angel and of our heavenly Mother. In this place where we were repeatedly requested to recite the Rosary, let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s Rosary. The recitation of the Rosary allows us to fix our gaze and our hearts upon Jesus, just like his Mother, the supreme model of contemplation of the Son. Meditating upon the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries as we pray our Hail Marys, let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus, from the Incarnation, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection; let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. Grace invades our hearts, provoking a wish for an incisive and evangelical change of life so that we can say with Saint Paul: “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21) in a communion of life and destiny with Christ.
Great effort and courage are needed to live the Fatima message. We tire… our mood can change quickly… we become distracted. Despite those real challenges, however, we must, with the help of the Holy Spirit, overcome them and reply positively to what Mary desires of us.
The message of Our Lady at Fatima is good news to be shared. Some Catholics are cognizant of the Fatima apparitions and their import, while many are not aware of them. What Our Lady told the three shepherd children is pertinent for all of us.
There is much we can do in our families and parishes to promote Our Lady and the words she bequeathed to the shepherd children. We can recite the Most Holy Rosary at home with our family. We can ask our pastor for permission: to pray it in the church before or after Mass; make Brown Scapulars that are presented to the pastor so that he can enroll both children and adults in the Brown Scapular; provide materials about Mary and Fatima at the doors of the church and which may be used in the parish religious education classes; invite someone who is well-versed in the Fatima apparitions who can address the parishioners, etc.
But most of all, to evangelize effectively we must ensure that we are living Fatima by our own reception of the Sacraments, recitation of the Most Holy Rosary, wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, offering of sacrifices in reparation for sins and performance of our daily duty.
Along his way on the same pilgrimage to Fatima in 2010 referenced above, Pope Benedict XVI clarified what our reply to Our Lady should be:
The important thing is that the message, the response of Fatima, in substance is not directed to particular devotions, but precisely to the fundamental response, that is, to ongoing conversion, penance, prayer, and the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. Thus we see here the true, fundamental response which the Church must give—which we, every one of us, must give in this situation. As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church. This too is something that we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice. In a word, we need to relearn precisely this essential: conversion, prayer, penance and the theological virtues. This is our response, we are realists in expecting that evil always attacks, attacks from within and without, yet that the forces of good are also ever present and that, in the end, the Lord is more powerful than evil and Our Lady is for us the visible, motherly guarantee of God’s goodness, which is always the last word in history.
Fatima is about loving God! We want to do as Our Lady asked—and as well as we can. We do not want to disappoint her and her Divine Son, but rather to live as the Two Hearts desire.
Fatima is for our era. Fatima is for us.
Pope Benedict XVI, “Discourse after the Recitation of the Most Holy Rosary” in the Chapel of Apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on May 12, 2010 (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2010/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20100512_benedizione-fiaccole_en.html)
Pope Benedict XVI, “Interview with the Journalists in-flight to Portugal” on May 11, 2010 (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2010/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20100511_portogallo-interview_en.html).