October Reveals Forgotten Links Between Fatima and Divine Mercy
Events in October, the month of the Holy Rosary, also reveal the unbreakable connection between the Fatima and the Divine Mercy devotions
Fatima and Divine Mercy may seem to be separate devotions, but are they somehow linked?
October brings an answer. The anniversary of the last public apparition of Our Lady of Fatima is Oct. 13. On one side, Oct. 5 is the feast day of St. Faustina, who was given the message of Divine Mercy. On the other side, Oct. 22 is the feast day of St. John Paul II, who is prominently connected with both Fatima and Divine Mercy.
How might these suggest a further connection?
One implicit connection came in September 1993, when Pope St. John Paul II traveled to the former Soviet Baltic republics and prayed with Lithuanians in Vilnius. The Fatima pope who championed the Divine Mercy devotion knelt praying the Rosary with the people at the feet of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, the official name of the miraculous icon being “Our Lady of Mercy of the Dawn Gate.” Here is exactly where the image of the Divine Mercy was painted and first exposed, precisely in this shrine of the Mother of Mercy in Ostra Brama.
Being there and praying, John Paul II remarkably linked the message of Fatima with the message of Divine Mercy. Jesus the Divine Mercy and Mary the Mother of Mercy were together in that one shrine.
A few years ago, Father Michael Gaitley of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception explained that the two devotions are related by what can be called the “bookends” of Fatima.
He noted that in 1916, a year before the apparitions of Our Lady began, “God sent the ‘Angel of Peace’ to the three children of Fatima, telling them, ‘The most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you.’ Thirteen years later, in what’s often called ‘the last apparition of Fatima,’ Sister Lucia received a vision in 1929 that prominently included the words ‘Grace and Mercy.’”
“That the apparitions of Fatima would begin and end with mercy is fitting,” Father Gaitley had said. “After all, Our Lady of Fatima’s merciful purpose was to prevent her children from having to go through terrible suffering.”
In the same way, Américo Pablo López-Ortiz, the international president of the World Apostolate of Fatima, wrote about the fundamental harmony of Fatima and Divine Mercy noting that the slogan of Fatima is, “Grace and Mercy” — words that appeared in that 1929 vision.
And at Fatima, as López-Ortiz revealed, the Fatima seers discovered “the infinite ocean of love and mercy that God is,” and through Mary’s heart, they discovered “the infinite mercy of God with poor sinners and the terrible threat they are facing, the existence of hell, created for those who proudly do not accept God’s mercy.”
Telling Sister Faustina about the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus said, “I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy.” Then for each specific group, she was to pray for during a novena. Our Lord told her, “Immerse them in the ocean of my mercy.”
Fatima Ocean of Mercy
Didn’t Mary look to bring everyone into that ocean of divine mercy with her appearance and directions at Fatima? In her Diary (330), St. Faustina records a vision in which Mary said, “I am not only Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy and your Mother.”
In his homily at Mass in Fatima in 1982, John Paul II reminded, “‘Repent (do penance) and believe the Gospel’ (Mark 1:15), these are the first words of the Messiah addressed to humanity.”
Both Fatima and Divine Mercy are prime calls to repentance.
“If there is one thing Our Lady stressed at Fatima, it was the imperative to repent,” wrote Servant of God Father John Hardon. “That is what the sacrament of penance is all about.” The sacrament of confession is one of the conditions of the Divine Mercy Sunday devotion, too.
“The message of Fatima is at its fundamental core the call to conversion and penance, as in the Gospel,” John Paul II continued in his homily. “In the light of maternal love, we understand the entire message of the Lady of Fatima. What most directly opposes man’s path toward God is sin, persevering in sin, and, finally, the denial of God. The planned cancellation of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of all earthly activity of man. Man’s rejection of God.”
He went on: “Can the Mother, who with all the power of her love, which she nourishes in the Holy Spirit, desires the salvation of every man, remain silent on what undermines the very foundations of this salvation? No, she can’t! For this reason, the message of the Lady of Fatima, so maternal, is at the same time so strong and decisive. It seems severe. It is as if John the Baptist spoke on the banks of the Jordan. Invites to penance. She warns. She calls for prayer. She recommends the Rosary.”
She recommends these because of her “concern” for all “men of our era, and together societies, nations and peoples. Societies threatened by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation. The collapse of morality brings with it the collapse of societies.”
That provides another link. Rosary beads.
The Divine Mercy devotion includes the Chaplet of Divine Mercy prayed using the beads of the Rosary. There is that visual, tangible connection joining both devotions. The same beads.
And recall the prayer Our Lady taught the children to say after every decade of the Rosary: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls into heaven, especially those who are in most need of thy mercy.” Saying this prayer is also a spiritual work of mercy and a direct connection to the message of Divine Mercy that calls us to works of mercy too.
Our Mother and Mercy
Not incidentally, as Robert Stackpole, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy at the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, noted, Our Lady “was the one chosen by God to be the Mother of our merciful Savior, Mercy Incarnate; she literally brought Divine Mercy Himself to birth in our world.”
Earlier in his encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, John Paul II also said, “Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy. She knows its price; she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the ‘Mother of mercy’ … God chose Mary to reveal this merciful love to us.” With her role, isn’t this why Mary came to Fatima to bring the message of conversion and divine mercy?
As he explained in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth):
Mary is also Mother of Mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his Church and all humanity. … Thus Mary becomes Mother of each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy.” He also wrote, “Mary is Mother of Mercy because her Son, Jesus Christ, was sent by the Father as the revelation of God's mercy (John 3:16-18). Christ came not to condemn but to forgive, to show mercy (Matthew 9:13). And the greatest mercy of all is found in his being in our midst and calling us to meet him and to confess, with Peter, that he is ‘the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16).
Of course, Our Mother told Faustina of the necessity of making God’s divine mercy known:
You have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for his Second Coming of him who will come, not as a merciful savior, but as a just judge. Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while there is still time for granting mercy. (Diary 635)
Again, John Paul II made clear, “Mary is also Mother of Mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his Church and all humanity.” He did so at the foot of the Cross. “Thus Mary becomes Mother of each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy.”
And she keeps helping us. “Mary is our Mother of Mercy because, from heaven, she continues to come to our aid with her intercessory prayers, nurturing and caring for all of our needs, both of body and of soul,” Stackpole reminded.
She did that at Fatima. Our Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary, gave us the directions in her appearances at Fatima. Jesus gave us his message of Divine Mercy. Our Mother appeared to Faustina too. Jesus appeared in the Oct. 13 Fatima apparition.
Where the Son is, the Mother is. Where the Mother is, the Son is.