Mother’s Day in the United States usually finds people celebrating in a big way. Mothers are showered with gifts, and restaurants experience one of their busiest days of the year as families treat Mom to dinner. People in the United States were celebrating Mother’s Day on that May 13, 1917, when our Blessed Mother first appeared at Fatima.
But that May 13 was Mother’s Day in a universal way, as our heavenly Mother came to bring peace to families, to countries, to the world — to give us her motherly message that we must cease offending our Father and live by His laws.
On May 13, 1967, the fiftieth anniversary of Fatima — a Saturday, and the eve of Mother’s Day — Pope St. Paul VI released his apostolic exhortation Signum Magnum, reminding us that Mary is Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, and that she “continues to fulfill from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of redeemed men.” Simply put, she’s our Mother, our spiritual heavenly Mother.
Was it a coincidence that Fatima’s anniversary and Mother’s Day fell on the same day? What a providential connection there appears to be between Mary’s motherly concern for us and honoring our Mother!
Don’t we honor our mothers on Mother’s Day because they want the best for us? Hopefully that means that they strive for our salvation, first and foremost. Our Mother Mary certainly strives for the salvation of all her children. Fatima is perfect proof. At Fatima, our Blessed Mother shows herself a mother who guides and teaches her children the path to God.
In Signum Magnum, Pope Paul VI wrote specifically about our Mother’s influence through example and how we should follow it. He said that just as parents’ teachings become stronger by their example, “the immaculate Mother of God attracts souls in an irresistible way to imitation of the divine model, Jesus Christ, of whom she was the most faithful image.”
He affirmed, “It is therefore the duty of all Christians to imitate in a reverent spirit the examples of goodness left to them by their heavenly Mother. . . . It is, in fact, a natural thing that the children should have the same sentiments of their mothers and should reflect their merits and virtues.”
The wisdom in Paul VI’s words is quite evident. If earthly mothers want their children to be good, how much more does our heavenly Mother want us to be good? We do that by listening to her and imitating her. She made it simple at Fatima.
Don’t we also honor our mothers for the counsel they gave us, advising us on which pursuits may be beneficial to us and which would likely lead us into danger or even ruin? Didn’t our Blessed Mother in her apparitions at Fatima make it very clear to the children, and to us her children, the spiritual disasters, not to mention the temporal ones, resulting from following the ways of the world?
Did we listen to our mothers when they cautioned us to put those matches down so we wouldn’t get burned? Sure, we did. But not enough of us listened to our heavenly Mother on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1917, and later that summer when she said, “If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin.”
One look at the history of the twentieth century and today’s secular society tells us that most of our Mother’s children have not listened but remain disobedient and have become further corrupted.
When we honor our mothers on Mother’s Day, do we think of the times they helped us with our bruises and hurts? And doesn’t a mother comfort her child who calls in the middle of the night after waking from a nightmare? Our heavenly Mother will do the same if we call to her and listen to her advice to quell the nightmarish attacks upon all that is good in this world. The tiniest whisper to her will have her by our side to help.
We know that two dreadful “nightmares” surround the degradation of motherhood and marriage. In 1981, Sister Lucia wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who, in a 2008 interview, revealed, “In that letter we find written, ‘The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.’ Don’t be afraid, she added, because whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. Then she concluded, ‘Nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.’ ”
Our Mother Mary prayerfully intercedes for us, her children, and gave us the remedy back in 1917 to extinguish these “nightmares.” John Paul II pointed to that remedy again in his homily in Fatima 1982, when he said, “The call to repentance is linked, as always, with a call to prayer. . . . The Lady of the message indicates the Rosary, which can rightly be defined as ‘Mary’s prayer’: the prayer in which she feels particularly united with us. She herself prays with us.”
Good mothers keep after their children to get them on the right path. Our Blessed Mother certainly does. In each appearance, she reminded us, “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.” Again, she would repeat herself, saying, “I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day.”
At Fatima, on May 13, 1982, John Paul II reminded us of Our Lady’s motherly love: “In the words of Fatima, we seem to find this dimension of motherly love, whose range covers the whole of man’s path towards God. The solicitude of the Mother of the Savior is solicitude for the work of salvation: the work of her Son. It is solicitude for the salvation, the eternal salvation, of all.”
A mother never gives up on her children. “In the light of a mother’s love we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima,” John Paul II noted. “She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.”
The motherly directions of Our Lady of Fatima are as crucial as ever. As her children we’re called to follow them. We have to ask ourselves: Do we honor our mothers only on Mother’s Day? The answer should be, “Of course not.” What better way to honor our Blessed Mother and make every single day of the year Mother’s Day for her than by following the counsel and requests of Our Lady of Fatima?
This article is adapted from a chapter in the book, The Fruits of Fatima: A Century of Signs and Wonders. It is available as an ebook or paperback from your favorite bookstore, or online through Sophia Institute Press.
To learn more about Fatima, check out the articles “Third Secret of Fatima: The Best-Kept Secret of the 20th Century” by Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC and “Why Does Our Lady of Fatima Call Us to the Daily Rosary?” by Joseph Pronechen.