Friday, May 13 ~ Seventh Week in the Season of Easter
Our Lady of Fatima ~ 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Apparitions
Holy Gospel: Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Meditation: When an admirer wished to compliment Jesus by praising his mother, Jesus did not deny the truth of the blessing she pronounced. Her “beatitude” (which means “blessedness” or “happiness”) recalls Mary’s canticle: All generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48). Jesus adds to her words by pointing to the source of all true blessedness or happiness – union with God in heart, mind, and will. Mary humbly submitted herself to the miraculous plan of God for the incarnation of his only begotten Son – the Word of God made flesh in her womb, by declaring: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary heard the word spoken to her by the angel and she believed it.
Prayer: O God, who chose the Mother of your Son to be our Mother also, grant us that, persevering in penance and prayer for the salvation of the world, we may further more effectively each day the reign of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Our ultimate goal in life, the very reason we were created in the first place, is not to attend a certain university, have a particular job, live at a certain address with a particular car parked in the driveway. No, our ultimate goal is to get to heaven where we may experience complete union with God. We were made for God and our hearts are restless until they rest in him. Saint Lucian of Antioch, an early Christian theologian and martyr, once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints.” Those who follow Jesus Christ and who seek the will of God enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God and his kingdom. As in “those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28) and those who are “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22). Think about it!
THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA: This spring will mark 100 years since the Fatima apparitions, and an opportunity to reflect deeply again upon their message.
The Angel of Peace appeared three times to the shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, beginning in the spring of 1916 in Fatima, Portugal. These visitations prepared the way for the six apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima the following year. The message of Fatima may be lost sometimes in the mysterious and the spectacular: the apparitions; the “three secrets;” the “dancing of the sun.” Yet, the main entreaties from Heaven concerned our day-to-day earthly activities and how these will forge our eternal destiny.
Fatima calls us to conversion, and a daily turning away from sin. In order to convert the unrepentant, the Angel first taught the children the great value of intercessory prayer. Underscoring the importance of our intercession, the only thing the Virgin Mary requested at all six appearances was for us to pray the Rosary, every day. She told them that our prayers can help save souls, “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.” It is not only intercessory prayer, but also our intercessory sacrifices and sufferings that are efficacious. By virtue of our Baptisms, we are all brought into the Body of Christ and partake in His priesthood, as part of the common priesthood of the faithful. Acting in our priestly role, we can offer ourselves up as “spiritual sacrifices” acceptable to God and in atonement for sins (CCC 1141).
Further linking us to the Body of Christ, the Angel and the Virgin Mary said we should seek to console God through worthy reception and adoration of the Eucharist. While the idea of consoling an all-powerful God may seem counter-intuitive, we are reminded by Pope Pius XI that “we can and ought to console that Most Sacred Heart,” which is continually wounded by our sins (Miserentissimus Redemptor, 13). In a similar way, the Angel offered the children holy Eucharist to make reparation for sins and to “console your God.” This was later echoed in Our Lady’s Eucharistic prayer: “O Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!” The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324), and the Fatima apparitions remind us that worthily receiving Jesus in Communion has the grace to save our souls and console our God.
The Virgin Mary also asked us to make reparation through the “First Five Saturdays” devotion. Our Lady promised Sister Lucia, “to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation” those who will practice this devotion of Confession, Eucharist, recitation of the Rosary, and meditation upon its mysteries. The Church rightly honors the Mother of God, because it was through her, and in consent of her freewill, let it be done to me, that the Savior was born into the world (Lumen Gentium, VIII). This is what we proclaim in the words of the Rosary: the moment of the Incarnation of God. As Pope Paul VI issued in his 1967 Apostolic Exhortation, Signum Magnum, on the 50th anniversary of Fatima, it is fitting that we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as the spiritual Mother of the Church, for her mediatory role in the salvation of the world.
Now, on this 100th anniversary of Fatima, we are reminded again to contemplate its message and embrace its devotions. Although the Angel of Peace and Our Lady of Fatima appeared during the carnage of World War I, the divine messages are perhaps even more relevant today, in an age of nuclear weapons and renewed militancy across the globe, rampant atheism, materialism and loss of faith, a diminishing Church in the West, and a rapidly growing permissive society. As faithful disciples, we are called to be holy, and intercessors for each other. Fatima was a wake-up call. In it, Jesus’ last words from the Cross come alive “Behold, your mother” (Jn. 19:27). In the midst of a passing world, we need to get right with eternal things: penance, Confession, the Eucharist, prayer, especially the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima renews this call again, to stay on the narrow path to Heaven. (by Brian Kranick, Catholic Exchange)
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.