Hard to believe. We’re already at the end of the Year of Fatima – the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Between May 13 and Oct. 13, 2017, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared six times to Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos.

During the apparitions, Mary promised that peace would be granted to the world if her requests for prayer, reparation, and consecration were obeyed. She stressed the importance of daily praying the Rosary, wearing the Brown Scapular, and making acts of penance and sacrifice. She taught the children a new devotion – the Five First Saturdays – and asked them to practice it and to encourage others to practice it as well. She confided in them the Fatima Secret, of which there is three parts. The first part was a terrifying vision of hell shown to the children. The second was the prophecy of the outbreak of World War II. The third part, written down by Lucia, has not been made public.

The culmination of the apparitions has become known as the “Miracle of the Sun.” Hoping to see something miraculous, spectators gathered around the Cova in which the Blessed Mother had appeared. It rained throughout the night of Oct. 12-13, soaking the pilgrims who waited there. Well past noon – the promised time of the apparition – Our Lady appeared. She instructed the children to build a chapel on that site in her name and assured them that World War I would soon end and the soldiers would return home. For the sake of the crowd, the children asked her to identify herself to which she responded, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”

The children asked whether the Lady would grant requests given them by onlookers. She informed them that she would grant some but not others. Finally, she told them, “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”

Then the Blessed Virgin raised her palms toward heaven and the sun appeared, despite the dark clouds, as a spinning silver disk. All of the more than 70,000 people present saw it. While the seers observed visions of the Holy Family, our Lord, and then our Lady, pilgrims observed the sun tremble and “dance” in the sky. At one point, it appeared as though it were veering toward the earth and then it jumped back into its place again. When the miracle had subsided, the crowd realized that everything that had previously been soaked by the overnight rains had dried completely.

That was the end of the apparitions for Francisco and Jacinta. Our Lady appeared one last time in 1920 to Lucia only, instructing her to give her life totally to God.

We’ve spent the past twelve months celebrating, pilgrimaging, reviewing, reading about, and contemplating the happenings and message of Fatima. Although given to three Portuguese shepherd children in 1917, the message was meant for every man, woman, and child for all time. That includes you and me and all of our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia were merely the messengers of what is one of the most vital messages of all time.

Fatima was only the beginning. The past one hundred years were only the first step in the mission of Fatima. The three shepherd children are long gone, but we are here. The message and mission of Fatima has been passed on to us and we’re expected to carry it forward into the next one hundred years. Prayer, penance, and sacrifice are as much needed today as it was in 1917. Perhaps even more so. And perhaps it will be even more necessary in the coming century.

It's time to ask ourselves what part we will play in Fatima going forward. There are questions we should be asking ourselves: What will I do on a daily basis to help bring about the conversion of the world? Of my Church? Of my community? Of my family? Of myself? What part of the Fatima message can I begin to live immediately and with fervor? What part can I implement next? What part after that?

Some of us, thanks be to God, have carried on for years all of the devotions our Lady requested at Fatima. Some of us have done them here or there, with or without diligence. Others have never even tried.

The 100th year is a jubilee, and in Biblical times, jubilee years were ones of reparation, forgiveness, and reparation. It was a time to begin anew. This 100th anniversary of Fatima could be a time to begin anew as well.

Fatima isn’t over. It’s merely begun. How will you carry it forward?