Tuesday 27th June 2017

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The Angel Of Peace At Fatima

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By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY

(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.)

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Lesser known but still integral to the Fatima event are the three apparitions of the Angel of Peace to the young visionaries Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta which took place in 1916.
The apparitions of the angel were preparatory in nature. Beginning about one year prior to our Lady’s first apparition to these same children on May 13, 1917, the Angel of Peace came to prepare the children for the mission entrusted to them by the Mother of God who would impart to them a message of peace for the world.
This peace, as Fr Andrew Apostoli, CFR, notes, “…would require prayer, sacrifice, and suffering, all of which the children would need to experience in their own lives first before asking it of others. So God sent an angel three times to prepare the children for the coming of our Lady at Fatima” (Andrew Apostoli, Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010, 21).
We do not know the exact dates of the three apparitions of the Angel of Peace. Later in life, Sr. Lucia, one of the visionaries who had become a cloistered nun, estimated in her memoirs that the dates of the apparitions occurred sometime during the spring, summer, and fall of 1916.
The first apparition in the spring occurred at a section of Lucia’s father’s land that lay at a rocky elevation some sixty feet high called the Cabeço. Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were together tending their families’ flocks of sheep. When the sky cleared after a morning rain, the three had lunch, prayed the rosary, and then started to play jacks together (John de Marchi, The True Story of Fatima: A Complete Account of the Fatima Apparitions, Constable, N.Y.: The Fatima Center, 2009, 5).
After playing only a short while the children saw a white light in the sky moving toward them. The light took the form of a young man about fifteen years of age. In Sr. Lucia’s later words the young man was “transparent, more brilliant than a crystal pierced by the rays of the sun” (ibid.).
The vision came near to them and in what is almost the universal introduction of his kind to men on any first meeting, said to them: “Do not be afraid.” This, he followed with: “I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me!” (Warren H. Carroll, 1917: Red Banners, White Mantle, Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Publications, 1981, 26).
The angel then knelt and prostrated himself on the ground. The children did the same in imitation of him and repeated his words which are now known as the Pardon Prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You! I ask pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.”
He repeated this prayer three times and then arose and told them: “Pray this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications” (de Marchi, 5-6).
The children told no one of the apparition. The intensity of the experience imposed a secrecy of itself. A greater fervor and sense of togetherness was impressed upon the three — Lucia, and her cousins who were brother and sister, Francisco and Jacinta.
The summer months came bringing with them the blistering heat of the sun. One day in the early afternoon after leading the sheep back into the barn, the three children took respite under the inviting shade of the olive trees near a well close to the home of Lucia’s family (ibid., 6).
While resting there, the angel suddenly appeared at their side and offered a mild rebuke: “What are you doing?” Fr. Apostoli notes that these words must have greatly affected the children as they would respond very faithfully to the second message of the angel: “Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High” (Apostoli, 26-27).
Lucia then asked the angel how they were to make sacrifices. The angel answered: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you” (ibid., 27).
Only Lucia and Jacinta were able to hear the angel’s words — a grace not granted to Francisco, who only saw the angel but was not able to hear him. Filled with curiosity, he continually questioned the girls about what the angel had said, but they were so moved they could hardly bring themselves to speak and it took days for them to relay the message to him (de Marchi, 6-7).
The children were able to clearly understand the significance of these visitations as is evidenced by how they quickly began to lose their passion for playing or singing. Francisco even remarked: “What [do such things] matter? The angel is more important. Let us think about him” (ibid.).
Later in life, while reflecting back on these words of the angel, Sr. Lucia referred to them as “a light that made us realize who God was, how He loved us and wanted to be loved; the value of sacrifice, to what degree it pleased Him, and how it was rewarded with the conversion of sinners. From that moment we began to offer to the Lord everything that mortified us, without trying to find any other ways of mortification or penance than passing hour after hour, bowed to the ground, repeating the prayer the angel had taught us” (ibid., 7).
With the fall came the final apparition of the Angel of Peace to the three little cousins. The children were again grazing their sheep near the Cabeço where the angel had appeared to them for the first time in the spring (Apostoli, 34).
The angel’s words at the second apparition made the children more serious and prayerful (ibid.).
As a result, while taking a little respite from their duties tending the sheep, they began to pray the rosary and the prayer that the angel had taught them. While praying one day an extraordinary light shone on them and the angel appeared. He was holding in his hand a chalice with a Host over it from which fell some drops of the Precious Blood into the chalice.
Leaving the chalice and the Host suspended in the air he prostrated himself on the ground and repeated this prayer three times teaching it to the children:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You 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 with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners” (ibid., 34-35).
The angel then arose and took the chalice and Host into his hands. He distributed our Lord in Holy Communion to the children in what would be the pair of brother and sister, Francisco’s and Jacinta’s, First Holy Communion. As he distributed the Eucharistic Lord to them, the angel said: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God” (ibid., 35-36).
After this distribution of Holy Communion the angel again prostrated himself upon the ground and prayed three times the prayer he had just taught the children. The children did likewise. With this the Angel of Peace had completed his mission and departed.

Preparation

The depth of the meaning of these visions unfolded slowly within the minds of the children. While telling no one of what they experienced, they were obviously deeply affected by their encounter with the angel and began to inculcate the message imparted to them within their daily lives.
They began to often recite the prayers taught to them by the Angel of Peace and in doing so, fulfilled his instruction to “Console your God!”
The love of these innocent little children with the fervency of their prayers was truly an offering of consolation to God for the ingratitude and hatred of so many in the world who had forgotten Him (ibid., 42).
In this centenary year, we should follow their example and do the same. There is no better time than now, as the Church commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, than to heed the message of her forerunner, the Angel of Peace. Like Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, let us put to memory the prayers the angel taught so we can offer these same prayers to God every day.
We should also renew our commitment to making acts of reparation for sins against God, offering up our sufferings for the conversion of sinners and increasing our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer, reparation, penance, and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. This was the message of the Angel of Peace. His final appearance came in the fall of 1916 and immediately Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta began to put into practice all that he had taught to them.
This was in preparation for what was to come. Six months later, the Mother of God would come to Fatima.

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