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October 5, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Concluding our summary of the six appearances of our Lady of Fatima 100 years ago, here is an account of what happened on October 13, 1917, along with comments on lessons to be learned from Fatima.
Despite torrential rains flooding Portugal, some 70,000 pilgrims slogged their way through the rain and the mud to stand in the Cova da Iria on October 13 and wait for the promised miracle of Fatima. Lucia’s mother, though a skeptic from the beginning, went with her daughter that day in case the apparition did not happen and the angry crowd turned on Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta. “If my child is going to die,” said Maria Rosa Santos, “I want to die with her.”
Just before noon, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and the Virgin Mary appeared once again on the holmoak tree. Her first words were, “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. 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 soon return to their homes.”
The war, as we have noted, ended a year later, and the first chapel was built in the Cova in 1920, but anti-religious fanatics destroyed it with dynamite two years later. Another chapel was constructed in 1928, and a large basilica, housing the remains of St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, stands near the chapel today.
Our Lady again pleaded for people to stop sinning, saying with a sad face, “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended.” After she had “disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament,” said Lucia, “we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When a little later the apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours [Sorrows]. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.”
Then came the promised miracle that was witnessed not only by the 70,000 onlookers present in the Cova, but also by thousand of observers up to 25 miles away. People were able to look directly at the sun without hurting their eyes, and they saw it spin on its axis, sending out rays of multicolored light like a giant pinwheel. The sun then seemed to tear itself loose from the sky and began a mad, zigzag plunge toward Earth. People cried out in fear, thinking they were about to die, and begged God for mercy and forgiveness. But then the sun halted its descent and returned to its place in the sky, resuming a normal brightness that prevented people from looking directly at it. The wet clothes of the people were dry, and the deep mud of the pasture had dried up too.
Present that day was an atheistic reporter from the Lisbon newspaper O Seculo. Avelino de Almeida had come to discredit the claims of the children, but he could not deny what he had witnessed with his own eyes. On the front page of the October 15 issue of his newspaper was a picture of the children and a story with the headline: “Bewildering Happenings! How the Sun Danced at Midday in Fatima.” On October 13, 1930, the local bishop gave Church approval to the Fatima apparitions, declaring them “worthy of faith.”
What happened to the visionaries? Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta died in 1920, both victims of a flu epidemic that killed 20 million people. Both were canonized by Pope Francis on May 13, 2017. Lucia entered a convent in Spain in 1925 and continued to receive visions from the Virgin Mary. She also wrote a four-volume account of the Fatima events. She transferred to a Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1948 and remained there until her death in 2005 at the age of 97. Lucia made public appearances at Fatima with Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1982 and 2000. Her cause for sainthood is underway.

The Lessons Of The Fatima Apparitions

First, there is the extraordinary love the Blessed Mother has for us, her children. She has repeatedly come to Earth to urge us to turn away from sin and to stop offending the Lord, our God, “because He is already so much offended.” If we listen to her, she has told us, “many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
Second, we must pray the rosary to bring about peace and an end to wars. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “prayer is more powerful than bullets and faith more powerful than armies.”
Third, we must pray and make sacrifices for sinners, “for many souls go to Hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.” Sacrifice means giving up something that we really love or desire out of love for God or for the conversion of sinners. It doesn’t have to be great things; it can simply be offering up daily annoyances or suffering in silence when others treat us unfairly.
Fourth, Purgatory is real. There are souls who die in God’s friendship but have not sufficiently atoned for their sins in this life. They are being purified in Purgatory and need our prayers to get to Heaven. That is why we offer Masses for those who have died and, once they get to Heaven, they will pray for us.
Fifth, contrary to what many believe today, there really is a Hell. After showing the children a vision of Hell, with demons and souls in human form groaning in a sea of fire, our Lady taught them a prayer to be said at the end of each decade of the rosary: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fire of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”
Sixth, when Jacinta was dying in Lisbon, the Blessed Virgin told her that war is a punishment for sin, that the way people dress will offend our Lord very much, that many marriages are not of God, and that more souls go to Hell because of sins of impurity than any other sins.
Seventh, our Lady said that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph” and “a period of peace will be granted to the world.” But this will not fully come about, she said, until people cease offending God, pray the rosary daily, and make the five First Saturdays. She promised assistance at the hour of death to those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, receive Holy Communion, go to Confession eight days before or after the Saturday, and keep our Lady company for 15 minutes while reciting the rosary.
Eighth, Jesus told Lucia that there are five first Saturdays because of five offenses against the Blessed Mother: against her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, and her divine maternity, as well as implanting in children contempt for Mary and defacing her statues or images.
Our Lady of Fatima, bring about world peace and help us to stay close to your Son.

Q. Your reply about lying to protect innocent victims [see The Wanderer, September 21, 2017] would perhaps have been helped by reference to paragraph 2489 of the Catechism, which says that “no one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.” This is certainly the situation R.B.K. was asking about.
This is the situation for secrets of any kind. My wife and I were engineers who happened to work for a couple of different aero companies with government contracts. We both had “secret” clearance, but could not tell each other about the “classified” portions of our work.
Your column is always the first thing I read. Thank you for all your years of good work. — R.G., Maryland.
A. Thank you for your kind words and for the reference to the Catechism. Here is the full text of paragraph 2489:
“Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.”

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