Undoubtedly, one of the most important events of this year will be the celebration of the anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima: 100 years since the apparitions of Our Lady to the shepherds Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia in Portugal.
To get spiritually ready for this important event, I invite you to follow the path that God prepared for the shepherds themselves so that, guided by our good Guardian Angel, we can also prepare our hearts for this important festivity.
In this sense, it should be remembered that a year before the apparitions of Our Lady occurred, the Angel commissioned by God to prepare the souls of the three children to receive the message and the visit of the Virgin Mary appeared three times.
These apparitions of the Angel, which took place throughout 1916, are considered by some to be the first great ‘secret’ of Fatima, because at the time none of the children spoke about this fact. Only Lucia talked about this extraordinary event, 20 years after it happened.
It should be also said that the Angel had already appeared three times a year earlier; that is, in 1915, to Lucia and two other girls. Nevertheless, in these apparitions of 1915 the Angel was silent. He would not say or transmit any message. In the three apparitions of 1916, the Angel indeed speaks, preparing the seers for the visit of Our Lady. This is the reason why, just as the Angel prepared the shepherds, we should likewise allow our Guardian Angels to prepare us for this centenary.
The apparitions of the Angel are framed within the so-called “private revelations,” which are a valid aid to understand and live the Gospel better in the present moment (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Message Of Fatima, 06/26/2000). The Angel’s message is a prophetic message, one that not only explains the will of God for the present time, but also helps us recognize the presence of Christ in all times. How much we need the help of the Angel to help us to understand and live the message of Fatima nowadays! Pope Benedict XVI already said it: “Whomever thinks the prophetic mission of Fatima has ended, is wrong. Here, the plan of God that has addressed mankind from the beginning, asking ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ resurfaces” (Homily of Pope Benedict XVI on May 13, 2010).
As we walk the path with the Angel we want to promote the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, the message of the Angel becoming a simple yet deep version of the principles of our faith. If we were to summarize it, we should say that the content of the Angel’s first appearance of 1916 is an invitation to pray; the second, a call to sacrifice; and the third, a call to offer oneself for the salvation of sinners.
The message of the Angel is so important that Father Jose de Sainte-Marie, OCD, in an article on the Act of Consecration in Fatima of Pope John Paul II on May 13th, 1982, claimed “The consistency of these last three visits of the angel is amazing and, what is more important, it gives us the key to the whole mystery of Fatima: the salvation offered to a sinful world by the Divine Mercy and the gift of that Mercy through the Hearts of Christ and the Blessed Virgin: ‘the Hearts of Christ and Mary have intentions of mercy towards you.’ That statement is extremely important, because it invites us, from the very beginning, to consider the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the center of the Message of Fatima…”
Thus, the Angel’s message is fundamental if we are to understand what the triumph of the Immaculate Heart implies: this heavenly messenger teaches us and prepares us for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. With this spirit we will be able to understand, God willing, the message of the Angel, so we can make our ‘pilgrimage’ to that sanctuary where Our Mother and Queen lives and welcomes us all as her own children.
(article written originally in Spanish by Fr. Antonio María Cárdenas, ORC. Translated by Daniel R. Esparza).