The centennial of the most dramatic of Marian apparitions has passed, but there is much for us to learn and to ponder, still.
On October 13, 2017, the universal Catholic Church celebrated the closing of the Centenary of the Fátima Apparitions. In the six months previous to it, we remembered and contemplated the messages of Our Lady of Fátima that she gave to the world through the three shepherds of Fátima, St. Jacinta, St. Francisco, and the Servant of God Sister Lucia, in 1917.
Like a good Mother, the Church has blessed her children by commemorating special jubilee years and anniversaries of Marian apparitions: in 2002, Saint John Paul II announced the Year of the Holy Rosary. In 2008, 2009, and 2012 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI announced the Year of St. Paul, the Year of Priests, and the Year of Faith, respectively. Famously, Pope Francis announced the Year of Consecrated Life in 2015 and the Year of Mercy in 2016.
These special jubilee years are an invitation for the faithful to enter deeper into the mysteries of our faith and to embrace our universal call to holiness regardless of our age, stage of life and vocation.
The end of a jubilee year doesn’t mean we stop the journey we have been on; we are meant to continue to ponder these themes. It is the same with the centennial of the Fátima’s Apparitions; as the centennial concludes, we are called to continue the journey of contemplating and living out the messages that the Lord, through His Holy Mother, sent to us through the young visionaries.
One very specific theme of Our Lady’s — in all her apparitions, but especially in Fátima — is the need for daily prayer. The Blessed Virgin Mary has called the whole Church to a deeper relationship with her Son in this way.
In all the 6 months of her apparitions in Fátima, she repeated the same request to pray, pray the Rosary, and pray it daily.
- On May 13, she said, “I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day.”
- On June 13, “I want you to come here on the 13th of next month and I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day.”
- On July 13, “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of war, because only she can obtain it.”
- On August 19, Our Lady said to the little St. Francisco, “Continue to say the Rosary every day, and in the last month (October) I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”
- On September 13, “Continue the Rosary, my children. Say it every day that the war may end.”
- On October 13, Our Lady said, “I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their home.”
In one way, we are living 100 years after Our Lady’s apparitions in Fátima, yet in many other ways, it doesn’t seem any different than 1917. The world today has similar struggles but with newer challenges; many wars in so many parts of the world, brokenness in family life and marriages, the loss of faith in the lives of so many baptized Christians who lack good soil for their growth.
And the world needs peace, not only for an end of war, but also to overcome the inner war that so many souls struggle with. Today more than ever, families are in need of prayers for healing and protection. Today more than ever, every human heart is in need for deeper conversion.
Our Lord Jesus, from the Cross, entrusted us to His Holy Mother, through St. John the Apostle. As an expression of her motherly heart, Our Lady called the three little visionaries in Fátima “my children.” As children of this Heavenly Mother, we run to the fragrance of her Immaculate Heart by keeping her Rosary close to our heart and in our hands.
Through her intercession she takes us to Jesus for she knows the way to His Heart. As St. Louis de Montfort said, “Mary is the safest, the easiest, the shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus.” Just recently, Pope Francis urged us sternly to “never abandon the Rosary.”
Throughout St. John Paul’s encyclical, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, we learn that by praying the Rosary we remember Christ with Mary; we contemplate Christ with Mary; we learn Christ from Mary; we pray to Christ with Mary; we become conformed to Christ with Mary, and we proclaim Christ with Mary.
“With the Rosary, the Church sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love.”
By faithfulness to our daily prayer and closeness to Our Lady, we will come to witness the triumph of her Immaculate Heart in all the difficulties of our lives, as she promised at Fátima.
May our prayers and contemplation beyond the 100th Anniversary of Fátima’s Apparitions be as a spiritual stimulus for greater outpouring of grace for conversion of hearts and peace in the world.
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