The apparition at Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917, is the only approved apparition in 2,000 years in which the entire Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph appeared at the same time. The three little shepherd children saw Our Lady with St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, both blessing the world, during the time tens of thousands of people were witnessing the sun miracle.
The Miracle of the Sun was one of the most spectacular miracles recorded in the history of the Church. It was heaven’s verification of the message that the Mother of God came to deliver to the world. A miracle had been foretold months in advance, as to its exact day and hour. While the nature of the miracle was not foretold, three things were foretold: “In October, I will tell you  who I am and  what I want, and  I will perform a miracle so that all may believe” (July 13, 1917).
It is not correct to say that Our Lady foretold the Miracle of the Sun. She simply foretold a miracle, without stating what kind. The miracles of Jesus in the New Testament were to bring people to faith with a response in love. Such, too, was the reason for the Holy Family miracle of Fatima.
Before the release of the third part of the Fatima secret in 2000, Pope St. John Paul II sent two Vatican representatives to Sister Lucia. She took that opportunity to tell them that she had written a book. She requested permission from Pope John Paul to have it published. That book is described as having a catechetical dimension — and in fact is a “catechism of Fatima,” in both senses of the word. In English, it is titled Calls From the Messages of Fatima. In the preface, we read: “The entire message of Fatima is a great call to holiness for the Church of our time.
“Lucia sees this call to holiness in some of the details of the apparition. The presence of St. Joseph in one of apparitions is a pressing invitation to the sanctification of the family, a key theme throughout Lucia’s book and also one of the essential currents and main preconditions of the magisterium of John Paul II.”
Sister Lucia entitled the 18th chapter of her book “The Call to the Sanctification of the Family.”
Most importantly, Fatima is for faith, hope and love — and Fatima’s message can help the family to live in holiness, professing the totality of true faith.
My own meditation on Fatima has brought me to the realization that Fatima is a special message of holiness for the family, while its message embraces all of Catholicism. Popes have said that “Fatima reaffirms the Gospels.”
Sister Lucia wrote much on the family in her book: Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words — Volume II — Fifth and Sixth Memoirs, released in April 1999. She did the same, and more profoundly, quoting much sacred Scripture, in her more recent book, Calls From the Message of Fatima, released in 2000, which has recently been translated into various languages.
In her last book, Sister Lucia wrote: “In times such as the present, when the family often seems misunderstood in the form in which it was established by God, and is assailed by doctrines that are erroneous and contrary to the purposes for which the divine Creator instituted it, surely God wished to address to us a reminder of the purpose for which he established the family in the world. ...”
Sister Lucia continued: “In the message of Fatima, God calls on us to turn our eyes to the Holy Family of Nazareth, into which he chose to be born, and to grow in grace and stature, in order to present to us a model to imitate, as our footsteps tread the path of our pilgrimage to heaven.”
These are noble thoughts from Lucia, who was left in the world for years to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What is meant by the Immaculate Heart devotion embraces our living the totality of Catholic faith and practicing the Christian virtues as Mary lived them. In the June apparition, Our Lady announced that Lucia was to live a long life so as to witness to how God “wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
In Lucia’s final years of life, she focused especially on the holiness that should be that of every family.
The family today is under constant attack throughout the world. The message of Fatima is more relevant today because of these attacks on the family. We as a society struggle with the roles of husbands and wives in the home and the formation of children.
At Fatima, we learned so many great devotions to Our Lady that can help us with our spiritual formation within the home. The First Saturday devotion is a great way to get involved in the Fatima message and receive an abundance of grace. There are four requirements to making the devotion:
Praying the family Rosary together each night is a wonderful practice and creates family bonding that will last a lifetime. I am a strong believer in the old saying, “The family that prays together stays together.”
As a family, we must appreciate and not underestimate the power of the Fatima message and the spiritual benefits. The call that the Mother of God imposed on the Church was not directed simply at the pope and bishops. It is a call to all of us, whatever our state of life. With this said, it is a call to families to live the faith in the example of the Holy Family. In order for peace to come and happiness among families to come more fully, we have to hear and answer Our Lady’s call at Fatima. This is a call to holiness.
Fatima Within the Family
The family is the beating heart of our world. When the family is weak, our society becomes weak. This is the challenge that we face today.
In our families, we lack devotion; Fatima promotes devotion. In our families, we lack purity; and in the Fatima message, we practice penance, and penance helps one to adhere to purity. Today our families are lacking in prayer; Fatima promotes prayer through the request of Our Lady to say the Rosary daily. If you are part of a family, then you realize that it is a sacrifice, and the message of Fatima promotes sacrifice.
On Oct. 13, St. Joseph appeared to the crowd of 70,000, blessing the people and holding the Child Jesus. The Holy Family appeared at Fatima to us all as an example of holiness that can be attained within the family. Each member of the family has a role, with the father as head of the home and the mother as the beating heart, plus the children as loving, obedient members. Also, immediately after this appearance, Our Lady of Sorrows appeared. The many scholars over the years have interpreted this appearance by Our Lady as an acknowledgement to the breakdown of family life.
In order to help change our society, we must incorporate the Fatima message within our homes. If we want true peace and protection, we must submit to the will of Our Lady. If we submit, then we must learn the message, live the message and spread the message to the world — one family at a time.
John Preiss is president of Fatima Family Apostolate International.