We All Need Our Lady of Fatima

Our modern world desperately needs to heed the Blessed Mother’s message.

‘Candles in Fatima, Portugal’
‘Candles in Fatima, Portugal’ (photo: Nuki Sharir / Shutterstock)

The Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima happens each year on May 13. This annual commemoration offers the faithful the opportunity to learn a little more about the events that transpired in 1916 and 1917; to appreciate the faith and courage of the three shepherd children who conversed with Our Blessed Mother; to grow in our devotion to the message and to make practical resolution to live out the various aspects of the message. The message of Fatima, while it is definitively private revelation, is one that every Christian, every person, needs to hear and live out — for our own sakes, for the sake of our families and for the sake of the world.

Plenty of helpful resources have been published and produced over the last several decades, which can help us learn the basic details. Some of the best of these include the film, The 13th Day (2009); Father Andrew Apostoli’s book, Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope (Ignatius, 2010); and Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words (published by the Fatima shrine in 2007). These and the others help the faithful to understand more fully the miraculous events that took place in a small shepherd village in the Portuguese countryside more than a century ago. They also provide ideas as to how the message can be brought into a person’s daily life.

From the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Mary asked the shepherd children to pray the Rosary daily, specifically for the conversion of sinners. The visionaries took up this task and kept it without fail. At one point, they even committed to praying the prayers of the Rosary in full instead of abbreviating them, simply saying “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” in quick succession. While it can seem like a boring task initially, praying a daily Rosary is one of the best avenues for finding peace in the spiritual life and helping others by begging graces for them.

The three shepherd children also understood the Lord and Our Lady were asking them to patiently endure suffering. They knew that such an attitude was beneficial for them, but they particularly viewed it as a way to make reparation for sinners. Jacinta Marto, one of the three visionaries, loved dancing, but she was willing to give it up her favorite activity for the sake of those who did not know or love God. It is incredibly important for all of us to learn patient suffering, and to offer our daily sufferings for the conversion of those who are far from the Lord.

The visions given to these children also caused them to meditate frequently on eternity, both hell and heaven. In the July apparition in 1917, the children were granted a harrowing vision of hell, a vision that caused them to be ready to do anything to avoid eternal separation from God. During their days tending sheep, they also found themselves meditating on the glories of eternal life with God, which they could surmise from their encounters with Our Lady. Each of us will benefit from meditating on eternity and our potential ultimate destinations. That will cause us to be staunchly committed to the eternity we desire to avoid, and the eternity we desire to experience.

Over the six months of apparitions, the message of Fatima focused intensely on devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During several of her apparitions, Our Lady promised, “My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” She was referring to the reality that her heart would overcome the evils of the modern world, in 1917 and beyond. In the apparition of June 1917, she said, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God.” Whether by displaying a statue in our homes or by engaging in the Five First Saturdays practice, all of us become better disciples because Mary’s Immaculate Heart leads us straight to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta also learned of the value of offering their Holy Communions in reparation for sins and the conversion of sinners. The three children were taught a prayer that they could say anytime they were in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, especially at Mass:

O most Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ — present in all the tabernacles of the world — in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I get the conversion of poor sinners.

If each of us would begin the practice of bringing one person to the altar and making a spiritual offering at every Mass, people would be brought closer to Jesus and the world would be changed.

Finally, part of the final apparition in October 1917 was the presence of St. Joseph, the father of the Holy Family. In that event, St. Joseph held the Child Jesus, and they both blessed the world. St. Joseph is a great example and spiritual protector, and growing in devotion to him can do nothing but aid our spiritual growth and strength. St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor for the world, particularly for husbands, fathers and laborers. All of us, males and females alike, will benefit from imitating his virtues and righteousness, and from asking for his protection and assistance.

Taken as a whole, each of these practical habits helps us to assimilate the message of hope that came from Fatima. This message was not intended to be left in 1917. It is a message that our modern world needs desperately. Taking up these practices and making them into habits will be led closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and will call down an abundance of grace for people in this life. This will be our contribution to the transformation that the world so desperately needs.