What Must I Do?
A Call to Conversion
The message of Fatima is first and foremost a call to conversion. Beginning with the apparitions of the angel in 1916, this call to stop offending God and avoid sin is prevalent throughout the messages the three shepherd children received. The angel taught them two prayers that supplicate to an offended God for the pardon and conversion of poor sinners. In her apparitions, Our Lady declared that “Men must not offend Our Lord any more for he is already too much offended” and in her maternal concern, she warns us of the eternal and temporal consequences of a persistent life of sin and a lack of repentance. Specifically, during the July 13, 1917 apparition, she showed the shepherd children the vision of hell where poor sinners go and stated that war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father would occur if man does not cease offending God. Also, in response to requests for physical healings during the October 13,1917 apparition, Our Lady told Sister Lucia that some would not be healed because first they must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins”, which reminds us that conversion and the state of one’s soul take precedence over any temporal well-being.
Penance and Reparation
According to Sister Lucia, God’s mission for her was to remind the world of the necessity of avoiding sin and making reparation to an offended God. The messages conveyed during the Fatima apparitions emphasize this need for penance in reparation for humanity’s sins, and for the conversion and salvation of poor sinners. When the angel gave the children the Holy Eucharist, he asked them to make reparation for the crimes of ungrateful men. The angel also told the shepherd children to “Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High” and that they should “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.” When Our Lady repeated this request and stated that many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and offer sacrifices for them, the children consented and used all opportunities to offer their sufferings and sacrifices. In accepting the crosses God sent them, while heroically undertaking voluntary mortifications for the love of Christ and the conversion of sinners, they exemplify how to live out the call to penance and reparation. This aspect of the Fatima message and the example of the shepherd children show us that the offering of our own sufferings and sacrifices, when motivated by supernatural charity, is valuable in the eyes of God and can contribute to the conversion and salvation of souls.
The Daily Rosary
The message of Fatima emphasizes the importance of the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary and how this prayer is a means to bring about true peace and the salvation of souls. During each of the apparitions between May and October 1917, Our Lady explicitly requested that the shepherd children recite the Holy Rosary daily and indicated several times that the effect would be an end to World War I and world peace. On July 13, 1917, she taught the shepherd children a new prayer to be recited after each decade of the rosary for the salvation of souls, which has become known as the Fatima prayer. So integral is the Holy Rosary to the Fatima apparitions that Our Lady identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary during the apparition of October 13, 1917. Sister Lucia reiterated the importance of the Holy Rosary. For example, in an interview, she declared “There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.” Also, in a letter she wrote” the prayer of the Rosary, or five decades of it, after the Sacred Liturgy of the Eucharist, is what most unites us with God by the richness of the prayers that compose it” and that “after the Sacred Liturgy of the Eucharist, the prayer of the Rosary is what best fosters within our spirit the growth of the mysteries of Faith, Hope, and Charity. It is the spiritual bread of souls.”
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The most distinctive element of the Fatima message is that Our Lord wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This devotion to the Mother of God entails a consideration and imitation of all her virtues, especially her charity. It also entails reparation to the Immaculate Heart outraged by the sins of humanity, which was represented by the heart pierced with thorns that the children saw during the apparition of June 13, 1917. At Fatima, Our Lady revealed the devotion to her Immaculate Heart as the means for the salvation of souls and to attain union with God. Our Lady told Lucia that “whoever embraces this devotion I promise salvation, these souls shall be dear to God”. After showing the shepherd children the vision of hell, Our Lady stated that God wishes to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart in order to save the souls of poor sinners. The promises associated with this devotion provide the most encouraging and hope-filled aspect of the entire Fatima message. For example, in consoling words to Lucia, Our Lady stated that “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God”. Also, in the midst of all the evil and suffering that will engulf the world, Our Lady promises that in the end her “Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Five First Saturdays Devotion
During the apparition of July 13, 1917, Our Lady told Lucia that she would return and ask for the communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. Our Lady appeared to Lucia on December 10, 1925, who was now a Postulant with the Dorothean Sisters in Pontevedra, Spain, and related the following message to her regarding the Five First Saturdays Devotion.
“See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the First Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
- Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
- Blasphemies against her virginity.
- Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men.
- Instilling, indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children.
- Direct insults against her sacred images.
In subsequent private revelations, Our Lord told Sister Lucia that the Five Saturdays devotion should be done with fervor and in a spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lord also told her that one may go to confession within eight days of the First Saturdays or on other days to fulfill the conditions of the devotion, so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession. Also, if it not possible to meet other conditions of the devotion on the First Saturday, such as receiving Holy Communion, one may do so on the Sunday following the First Saturday. Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL the mysteries of the Rosary on each of the First Saturdays. One or several suffice.