This article first appeared in the August 6th edition of Vidi Dominum, the parish bulletin of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Re-published here with permission.
Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, some saints and angels, as well as Jesus Christ himself, have appeared to human beings through apparitions. An apparition is an appearance of a heavenly being to people on earth. The apparitions of Jesus in his risen body to his disciples occurred between Easter and his Ascension into heaven.
Although there are many approved Marian apparitions by the Catholic Church, the apparitions at Fatima continue to be the most magnificent of all the Marian apparitions to affect the world in the modern era. Mary under her title, “Our Lady of the Rosary” at Fatima, gave us specific instructions that would lead us closer to her son, Jesus Christ. The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima occurred on the 13th of every month from May to October, 1917.
She asked that the Rosary be prayed on a daily basis, that our daily sacrifices be offered up for the conversion of sinners, that we would adore the Blessed Sacrament more frequently, that there would be an increase of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that there would be an offering of what are now known as the First Saturdays of Reparation.
The apparitions at Fatima occurred during the First World War and the messages from Our Lady declared that if the world did not stop offending God, then another war even greater than the current war would occur. She is obviously talking about World War II, the war that began during the pontificate of Pius XI, a fact that was also declared at Fatima.
The apparition on July 13th, 1917 could be called the most important private revelation of the Age of Mary. The message that came on this day speaks of how fundamentally important it is to have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Also included in the message was a vision of Hell, and the souls that are suffering there, and the potential chastisement that would come upon the mankind during the 20th century.
She says in one of the messages, “To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart…if my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not she will spread her errors throughout the world…”
Lucia, one of the very young visionaries (she was then 10 years old; St. Jacinta was 7, and St. Francisco was 8), asked Our Lady what was to be done. Our Lady said, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is love for You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Throughout her apparitions to the three young children, specifically in the third Fatima message, she emphasizes the importance of the Holy Rosary, having referred to herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary,” and the importance of praying the Rosary on a daily basis for world peace and the end of World War I.
She said in one of the messages, “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will return to their homes.” Not only was the Rosary to be prayed until the war ceased, but we must continue to pray the daily rosary today. In a time with so much strife and hostility, the daily rosary is a prayer that can fight the evils of our time. St. Pio of Pietrelcina said it’s the greatest weapon against Satan.
During the October apparition (original article said July – that was my error. Mea Culpa.), there is also the event known as “The Miracle of Fatima” where 70,000 pilgrims witnessed the “solar miracle.” The sun danced in the sky at noon and appeared to give off different types of color. It also approached the earth very rapidly and then returned to its place in the sky just as rapidly. As the sun was “dancing” in the sky, the three children saw a tableau composed of the Holy Family, Our Lady with Divine Son, who blessed the crowd, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
As often occurs with Marian apparitions, the Church remains reserved in any decisions until the apparitions have ceased and some time has passed as not to make a ruling based on emotions or feelings. Two years after the apparitions at Fatima had ended, the Bishop of the Diocese of Leira–Fatima, Dom Jose Alves Correia da Silva, designated a commission to study the apparitions, which begun the official inquiry with the Church. Many pilgrims from the Portugal, Bishops and faithful, began to arrive in Fatima. In October 1930, thirteen years after the apparitions concluded, Bishop da Silva announced the results of the inquiry with a pastoral letter. In it, he said:
“In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reason of brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our Rev. Advisors in the diocese, we hereby: – Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, in this diocese, from the 13th May to 13th October, 1917. – Permit officially the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.”
So you might be asking yourself – what is consecration?
In the womb of Mary, at the very point of conception, Jesus entrusted his whole being to her. In a similar way, through an act of consecration, we ask Mary to intercede for us, elevating us with a even higher mark of grace and greater encounter with Jesus Christ. We are completely and totally surrendered to God’s will and service, saying Yes (Fiat) to Christ just as Mary did at the Annunciation. The act of consecration commits us to Our Lady, which will move us closer to her Divine Son. The most popular consecration is that of St. Louis de Montfort, the “Apostle to Mary”, which is titled, “Total Consecration.” To learn more about this form of individual consecration, I would encourage you to read my article on my blog titled, “Mondays with Mary” – Marian Consecration: Knowing Jesus through Mary from September 2, 2013.
In connection with the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will consecrate the entire Diocese of Phoenix to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13th at 6:00pm at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. In preparation for this consecration, all the faithful in Phoenix are invited to pray a 54-day Novena, pray a daily rosary, and offer acts of penance, beginning on August 21st. Sign up to receive the prayers, messages from Bishop Olmsted, and more via text and/or email. Text fatima100 to 84576 from your phone to subscribe.
Also in connection with the 100th Anniversary, St. Mary Magdalene will host the world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, traveling worldwide since 1947. The statue has traveled around the globe many times, visiting more than 100 countries, including Russia and China.
The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima was sculpted in 1947 by famous sculptor José Thedim, upon the precise instructions of Sister Lucia. On October 13th, 1947, the statue was blessed by the Bishop of Fatima and commissioned to serve as the Pilgrim Virgin that would carry the blessings of Fatima throughout the world. The Bishop prayed that Mary herself accompany the statue wherever it goes. Many graces and favors, including cures, and countless conversions have been associated with the precious image.
Join us on October 8th, 2017 from 7:00pm-10:00pm in the church. Hear a special presentation, pray the rosary together, along with other prayers, and take an opportunity to venerate this beautiful statue. We are the only East Valley parish hosting this tour, so spread the word! More information will be given soon!