Earlier, this year I made an interesting discovery alright. I made it a habit to retreat to the St. Lawrence Library at the Catholic Center at my University, to delve into annals of the history of the saints and just satisfy my childhood hobby of reading about the saints. It was then that I learnt that Mary, Mother of Jesus, does own a place among the saints- and despite being Catholic, I realized I didn’t know much about her devotions- or why she kept appearing to various faithful or not-so-faithful in various corners of the world over decades.
I had also only recently made my St.Louis de Monfort-style consecration to the Virgin Mary, and being Goan, my increased interest in my Portuguese heritage, led me to consecrate myself to Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, despite not knowing much about the actual miracle. So as I glanced down the shelves till my eyes met the hardcover that read ‘The Sun Danced at Fatima’ by Father Joseph Pelletier. Quickly, I borrowed the book only to discover a wealth of knowledge about the Blessed Virgin’s apparition to three peasant children-Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, and the consequent monthly visits to them as well as the miracle of the Dancing Sun performed in front of the Portuguese and that of protection of (now Saint wohoo!) Pope John Paul II from assassination in 1982.
Of course, that book had its fair share of enlightenment that I would like to share with you now- the main thing being ‘salvation through intercession’. For Jacinta, one of the three children at Fatima constantly reminds us that if we don’t pray for people, they won’t go to heaven. Such wisdom was seen in a simple child who was hardly eight. You’ll be even surprised to know that it wasn’t just about an apparition of Mary to three children, but a supernatural occurrence to the people of Portugal; wasn’t one miracle but dozens, wasn’t three children but hundreds. This made me wonder, why would Mamma Mary consistently perform miracles for all these people? To this Pelletier aptly wrote, “True apparitions are always the occasions of a tremendous outpouring of divine grace, and the ultimate aim of both the exterior graces that men call miracles, and the interior graces that directly touch men’s hearts and move their wills, is always to bring people back to God or closer to Him.” In my experience, feeling blessed through an exterior grace would equate to ‘seeing is believing’ and through an interior grace, feels like attending a retreat or performing a random act of kindness.
I can go on and on but of course I shall encourage you to read more about the Fatima miracle, especially about the prophesies of Russia, persecution and war, and the consecration of the world that is linked to it. Here are a few takeaways from the Secret of the Fatima:
- Chant of the Angel of Peace– My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you and I implore pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, do not love you. This inspires us to daily state what we believe and equally intercede for those who don’t.
- Apparitions– they can happen to anyone, any place, even 3 shepherd children.
- “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the suffering he wishes to send you as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” was Our Lady’s question to Lucia that reveals the ultimate truth about suffering and questions our willingness to suffer for others.
- It’s all about Faith. Miracles, apparitions. If it happened to me, I would have died of fear or have thought I was going a little crazy. It takes great courage and spiritual maturity. The Miracle at Fatima gave different messages to those who experienced it, affected them differently. For example, the other visitors- the townspeople couldn’t see the Our Lady; Francisco couldn’t hear the Lady speaking.
- The ‘Oh my Jesus, forgive our sins…thy mercy’ prayer that we recite after every decade of the Rosary? Have you ever wondered how it came into existence? Yep, that’s none other than the famed Fatima prayer.
- The Fatima message from Our Lady included her wish for us to spread the devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Cult of Our Lady of Fatima is one full of love so sweet and yet so surprising- needless to say, it gave me a new lease of life, religiously and made me understand Mary better, through all her virtues of motherhood, protection and intercession. I hope when you read about her and let her intercede for you, that you shall feel the same.