This Sunday, we will have arrived at the 101st anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. Devotion to Fatima surely grew during the 100th anniversary last year. When I made my way through some of the latest books about Fatima, something struck me about Our Lady’s message in Fatima. When Our Lady appeared monthly from May to October 1917 she consistently made promises to the three shepherd children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. As Mary spoke those words to the children, she revealed not only to them, but to all of us that she is a woman of her word.
In Fatima, Mary not only revealed herself as the Queen of the Rosary but also as the Woman of the Promise, a title not confined to the apparition alone but also to Mary’s very identity.
The Promise to Appear
Mary invited the children at the end of each apparition to return to the Cova on the 13th of the following month. Giving such an invitation tells us that Mary promised the children she would return the next month if they kept their promise to return. Mary kept her promise, except for August, when she appeared on a later date because of the children’s imprisonment.
The Promise to Reveal Her Name
Another promise Mary made to the children was the promise she would reveal who she was if they continued to return each month until October. Every month the children asked who she was, and repeatedly she promised to share her name in October. And it was a promise Mary kept. On October 13, 1917, Mary told the children she was the Lady of the Holy Rosary, which was fitting since in each of the apparitions Mary requested the recitation of the rosary.
The Promise of a Sign
Another promise Mary made to the children was the promise of a sign (or miracle) in October which would lead to many people believing in the supernatural events. And again, Mary fulfilled that promise, on that rainy day, the sun emerged in the sky and began to dance, as if it was going to collide with the earth. People began to refer to the event as the Miracle of the Sun, and knowing that Mary promised a sign, she fulfilled the promise she made to the children, and consequently many people came to believe in the children’s accounts of the apparitions.
The Promise of Peace
Mary made a request of the children during each apparition: pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world. A promise which was fulfilled with the cessation of the First World War, and it’s a promise Mary wants to fulfill, but it relies on us to bring about its fulfillment. Heeding Fatima’s message and praying the rosary everyday will allow the world to receive Heaven’s promise of peace.
Mary’s Promise of Prayers
Every time a Catholic prays the Hail Mary, they ask Mary to pray for them “now and at the hour of our death.” When we pray that prayer we place our hope in this promise of Mary’s prayers, not only in the immediacy of the moment the prayer is uttered, but also at the promise of prayers when we draw our last breath.
When Mary appeared in 1925 to Sister Lucia and further explained the First Saturday devotion, Mary said “I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.” This is further proof of Mary’s promise to pray for those who were devoted to her during their life.
Mary, Woman of the Promise
Mary is the woman of the promise who kept the promises she made to humanity. Since the Fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, God promised to right what was wrong by sending His son into the world. The prophets foretold that a virgin would give birth. Mary is that woman. She fulfills God’s promise to the world by giving birth to Emmanuel.
As the mother of all believers, she has made promises to her sons and daughters. She brought to fulfillment the promises she made in Fatima, and we can be certain she will do so for all eternity.
image: Nossa Senhora de Fátima by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)