Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
May 13, 2018. Sunday. Fatima’s 101st anniversary. Also Mother’s Day. It’s a day honoring not only our own natural mothers but also our heavenly Mother since she’s the perfect model of motherhood. And at the same time this year, our Mother arrives as Our Lady of Fatima.
Roll back the decades.
May 13, 1917. Sunday. Our Blessed Mother first appears at Fatima. People here were also celebrating Mother’s Day. But that May 13 was Mother’s Day in an international way as our heavenly Mother came to bring peace to families, to countries, the world. To give us her motherly message that we must cease offending our Father and guide us back to living God’s laws.
Coincidence of Fatima and Mother’s Day falling on the same day?
May 13, 1967. The 50th anniversary of Fatima and the eve of Mother’s Day. Blessed Pope Paul VI releases Signum Magnum (Letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary) reminding that Mary is Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, and " continues to fulfill from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of redeemed men.” Simply put, she’s our Mother, our Spiritual Heavenly Mother too.
Don’t we honor our mothers on Mother’s Day because they wanted the best for us? Hopefully that meant our salvation at the top of the list.
Our Mother Mary has that at the top of her list for all her children. Fatima is perfect proof. At Fatima our Blessed Mother shows herself a mother who guides and teaches her children the path to God and salvation.
Mothers who want the best for their children not only show them the right path but warn them of the wrong ways. Don’t we thank our mothers for not letting us play with matches when we’re youngsters?
Mary our Mother came to Fatima to warn us of spiritual dangers.
May 13, 1982. At Fatima, St. John Paul II reminded Mary’s children, “Her care extends to every individual of our time, and to all the societies nations and peoples. Societies menaced by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation.”
And “just as her Son’s first words to them were, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15), the message of Fatima is in its basics “a call to conversion and repentance…The call to repentance is a motherly one, and at the same time it is strong and decisive,” he said.
John Paul II also strongly reminded that the words of our Blessed Mother’s message “were addressed to children aged from seven to ten…Hence the fact that also her language is simple, within the limits of their understanding.”
At the same time, she addressed them to all of us, her spiritual children of any age. Why?
“Can the Mother who with all the force of the love that she fosters in the Holy Spirit desires everyone's salvation keep silence on what undermines the very bases of their salvation? No, she cannot,” John Paul II insisted. “And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive,” he repeated. “It sounds severe…It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.”
Think of an example or two that our mother gave us to imitate that made us a much better person as we grew up and that becomes one of the reasons we honor her on Mother’s Day. Maybe teaching us right from wrong by her example.
May 13, 1967. In his Letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Paul VI wrote precisely about our Mother’s influence through example and how we should follow it.
Paul VI said that just as parents’ teachings become stronger by their example, “the immaculate Mother of God attract souls in an irresistible way to imitation of the divine model, Jesus Christ, of whom she was the most faithful image.”
He affirmed, “It is therefore the duty of all Christians to imitate in a reverent spirit the examples of goodness left to them by their heavenly Mother…It is, in fact, a natural thing that the children should have the same sentiments of their mothers and should reflect their merits and virtues.”
Don’t we also honor our mother for the advice she gave us growing up, such as: this action would lead to something fruitful, but that one would likely end in danger or even ruin? Didn’t our Blessed Mother in her apparitions at Fatima make it very clear to the children, and we her children, the spiritual disasters not to mention temporal ones inflicted by following the ways of the world?
Did we listen when our mother directed us to put those matches down — don’t play with them or you’ll get burned? Sure we did. But how many listened to their Mother on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1917, and later that summer when she said, in part,
If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin.”
One look at the history of the 20th century and today’s secular society tells us most of our Mother’s children have not listened, remain disobedient, and have gotten worse.
When we honor our mothers on Mother’s Day do we think of the times she helped us with our bruises and hurts? And doesn’t a mother comfort her child who calls in the middle of the night after waking from a nightmare? Our Mother will do the same if we call to her and listen to her advice to quell the nightmarish attacks upon all that is good in this world. The tiniest little whisper to her will have her by our side to help.
We know that two dreadful ones are the degradation of motherhood and marriage.
In 1981, Servant of God Sister Lucia of Fatima wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffara who in a 2008 interview revealed, “In that letter we find written ‘The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family.’ Don't be afraid, she added, because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. Then she concluded: ‘nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head’.”
Our Mother Mary prayerfully intercedes for us, her children, and gave us the remedy 101 years ago to extinguish these “nightmares.” John Paul II pointed to the prescription again in 1982 as he said, “The call to repentance is linked, as always, with a call to prayer…the Lady of the message indicates the Rosary, which can rightly be defined as ‘Mary's prayer’: the prayer in which she feels particularly united with us. She herself prays with us.”
On this day let’s also call it “Mother Mary’s Prayer.”
May 13, 1917. Sunday. Mother’s Day. Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war, our Mother told us that day.
Good mothers keep after getting their children to the right path. our Blessed Mother did and does. In each appearance she reminded,
Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it…
I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day.
Our Blessed Mother also told the children she would ask for the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.
May 13, 1982. “In the words of Fatima we seem to find this dimension of motherly love, whose range covers the whole of man's path towards God…” John Paul II said. “The solicitude of the Mother of the Savior is solicitude for the work of salvation: the work of her Son. It is solicitude for the salvation, the eternal salvation, of all.”
He declared that “since that 13 May 1917, it is difficult to fail to notice how the range of this salvific love of the Mother embraces, in a particular way, our century.”
Detailing how so many of Mary’s children “have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima” and how “Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world,” John Paul II declared, “for this very reason the evangelical call to repentance and conversion, uttered in the Mother's message, remains ever relevant…It is still more urgent.”
A mother does not give up on her children.
“In the light of a mother's love we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima,” John Paul II noted. “She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.
The motherly directions of our Blessed Mother are as crucial as ever today. This 101th anniversary highlights the call to renew, begin, or continue what our Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, bids us.
What better way to honor our Blessed Mother on Mother’s Day, every day, and as Our Lady of Fatima? What is the best gift we can give her — which she will use for our-own-good, than listening to her and putting her example and directions into practice.