Fatima Is a Wake-Up Call

A world plagued by sin needed a wake-up call. Over 100 years ago, the sun danced in Portugal. This miraculous event gave credibility to the whole Fatima event and served as proof that it was truly a divine intervention in a world already doubting the existence of God. Three shepherd-children: Lucia, Francisco y Jacinta would be changed by the events that led up to the miraculous occasion and would go on to make history by how they responded to Our Lady of Fatima. The world could never have known how this humble woman, joined by these simple children, would change the course of history.

Some people have wanted to limit the message of Fatima to the concrete political context of the day. Fatima seemed to be tied up with Russia, since Mary had asked for the consecration of Russia to Mary. It seemed necessary to re-affirm the value of the faith in the face of the rising Communist power of the Soviet Union. She surely had something to do with the downfall of Communism, but this is not her most important message.

Fatima is a call to the world to turn away from sin. Beyond any possible political or humanitarian message, it is a call to prayer and repentance. Mary came to advocate for her Son, that men and women all over the world could turn away from their sinful ways and turn back to God.

The apparitions at Fatima re-affirm the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception and promote devotion to Mary specifically in the image of her Immaculate Heart. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is so important, because it sets Mary apart from all other women, even from all other creatures. The fact that she was conceived free from the effects of original sin prove that she was not merely any Jewish maiden God chose for the birth of the Messiah, but rather that she was truly a privileged creature worthy of our imitation and devotion.

In Fatima, Mary had a precursor. The year before the children saw the Blessed Virgin, the Angel of Peace appeared to them on three occasions. When they see the Angel of Peace, Francisco was not able to hear him. It was only after much prayer that he received the grace of hearing the angel with the two girls. This episode demonstrated that we can effectively pray poorly. Praying is a learned art we master in order to communicate with God.

Mary called us especially to prayer and repentance at Fatima. The shepherd children, probably goaded by Francisco, lazily recited the rosary each afternoon after lunch. They knew they had to obey their parents and pray the rosary but suffered through the many Our Fathers and Hail Marys. To accelerate the process, they merely said the names of the prayer, cutting down significantly the time invested each day. But it also destroyed the value of the prayer, for they were certainly not looking for God.

The sun danced to prove the truth of the children’s testimony. They had exhorted the pilgrims to prayer and repentance, and the Blessed Virgin Mary backed up their story with the miracle of the sun. All the people who had come to the last apparition saw a miraculous movement of the sun. It changed in size and in position so that all could believe that there had indeed been divine intervention throughout the monthly apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.

The shepherd children show us we must pray for sinners, so that they may not suffer the flames of Hell. Mary shows us through these children that the spiritual life is not a joke. Rather, we must learn from her to be true followers of her son.

It is important to pray the rosary. The rosary is a traditional Catholic prayer that has helped Christians down through the centuries. Since the call of the Blessed Virgin is a call of repentance, the rosary serves as a great tool to achieve our own conversion and the conversion of poor sinners. The rosary helps for conversion because it is a great way to put God and His Will far above ourselves and our own wills. In the rosary, we contemplate the mysteries of redemption and spend time with Jesus and Mary. We pray the Our Father, the perfect prayer that Jesus taught us.

The modern world has tried to deny the existence of God and especially the existence of sin. Everything around us proclaims an anti-Gospel that you should do what you want and ignore the consequences. Fatima refutes the denial of sin because it is a celebration of her immaculate conception. The Blessed Virgin Mary only makes sense in relation to God the Father, and especially to God the Son, Jesus Christ. She is the first apostle against sin, because she wants her Son to triumph over sin and death. The miracle of the sun was a reminder of the miracle of her Son.

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Fr. Nicholas Sheehy has worked with adolescents and young people both in the United States and abroad, especially in El Salvador and Germany. He is currently serving on the formation team of the Legion of Christ seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut. He blogs, vlogs and podcasts at www.fathernicholas.com.

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