With this article we conclude our long discussion of the mystery of the Marian apparitions of Fatima, retracing the main themes of her spiritual message that must shake and question our conscience and inform our inner life and action. We do this using the book of Sister Lucy,“The Appeals of the Message of Fatima”(LEV) with which the visionary responds cumulatively to the thousands of letters of clarification that so many of the faithful have sent her over many years.
It is no coincidence that Heaven has chosen three humble shepherd children, three children: their simplicity and total absence of prejudicial schemes would have made it possible to transmit with purity and integrity messages so important for all humanity and the life of the world. Sister Lucy describes very well the context in which the mystery of Fatima is grafted: a small rural village, made up of a few families blessed by the sacrament of marriage in which life was simple and marked by work and prayer even in the family (especially the Evening Rosary); parents were the first to transmit the first notions of faith to their children, few concepts, but clear: purity, modesty in dressing, avoiding bad company and sin, the risk of hell, etc.
Deepening the words first of the Angel and then of the Immaculate, we can see a series of precious appeals for our examination of conscience, to progress in the spiritual life and also to strengthen our faith in times of great confusion and apostasy in which we live, although the whole message can be briefly traced back to a basic concept: the holy observance of the Law of God. Men often challenge God’s commandments because in them they see a limit to their disordered passions but, Sr. Lucy recalls, ” the Truth does not cease toexist just because the unbelievers deny it!“
Starting from the angel’s prayers:“My God, I believe, adore, hope and love you”and“Most Holy Trinity I adore you deeply and offer you …” we can derive an appeal to faith, adoration, hope and Charity and an invitation to reparation. As for the duty to love God, it is not that He needs it, but the fact that He wants us to love him and accept our poor love, our humble gratitude, is further proof of His Love for us. In fact, the father smiles happily when, cradling his child in his arms, he is “repaid” with a smile, a caress, a kiss because he feels that the son corresponds to his love.
Another invitation that comes from the Angel’s words is to repent for one’s sins but also “for all those who do not believe, worship, love not, and hope in God.” Without repentance and commitment to change lives, God’s mercy does not reach us. The invitation to penance and prayer for the conversion of sinners is one of the central messages of Fatima: “many are those who go to hell because there is no one to pray for them“
At the heart of the Message of Fatima is then the invitation to participate in the Eucharist,to nourish ourselves with the Body and Blood of Christ:“Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink his Blood, you will not have life in you”(Jn 6:53). Of course the condition is to be in the grace of God:“Whoever unworthily eats or drinks the cup of the Lord, will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord … he eats and drinks his condemnation”(1 Cor 11:23-29). As proof of how inseparable Jesus and Mary are, let us consider how His Most Sacred Body and His Most Precious Blood, Christ received them from His Holy Mother, the flesh of His flesh, the blood of His blood. Let us also ponder how God closed His Incarnate Word and began His redemptive work, in the Heart of Mary, the purest first Tabernacle and Monstrance of Christ. And let us think of the nine months in which God was physically present in the virginal and pure womb of the Immaculate Conception, how the heartbeats of the Heart of Jesus were the heartbeats of the Heart of Mary, the prayer of Jesus was the prayer of Mary. And how can we not be grateful to this good Mother who not only consented to become the Mother of God so that we might be redeemed, but also, from the outset, to be our Mother, Mother of the crucifiers of her Blessed Son, offering him in exchange for us, children so often ungrateful that we dare to hurt his Immaculate Heart by offending Jesus with our sins! As Sister Lucy reaffirms, she is truly, with Christ, the Co-Redeemer of the human race.
Another fundamental reminder that comes to us from the message of Fatima, is that of true Marian devotion,in particular to the recitation of the Holy Rosary and to the devotion and Consecration of Her Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady reaffirms the power of the Holy Rosary: when asked if Francis would go to Heaven, she answers:“yes, but she will have to recite many Rosaries”and then says:“pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war”. Sister Lucy affirms that, after the Holy Mass, the Holy Rosary is the most welcome prayer that we can offer to God and of greatest profit for souls. The meaning of this request is that we must pray a lot to obtain from God the Grace without which we could not overcome temptations and save ourselves. Mary assures us of Her protection:“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God”.
Together with prayer, Our Lady exhorts us to penance to atone for the pains of our sins and those of our brothers and sisters and to make reparation for offenses against God,remembering that everything we will not have atoned for in this life, must be purified in Purgatory. It is Jesus himself who points out the cross as the way to follow him, so Sister Lucy recalls that, to save ourselves, we must drink the cup of sacrifice, of the renunciation of illicit pleasures, comforts and inclinations that drag us on the path of evil.
Another appeal of Fatima is to consider eternal life because our soul is immortal, but our eternity will be decided between two opposing realities: Heaven or hell. Our Lady is clear on the existence of hell, on the fact that it is not empty, indeed that there are many souls who end up there (especially because of the sins of the flesh) and on the action of the devil who continually tempts men to make them fall: proud and envious, he can not stand that God has destined creatures (men) having a nature inferior to his (angelic) to enjoy one day in heaven the happiness that he had definitively lost for his rebellion.
Jesus wants us to be consecrated in the Truth, for this reason Sr. Lucy also puts us on guard against false prophets who, praised by the world, come to us as sheep, denying the Truths revealed by God, introducing new and wrong doctrines and inducing men to walk on broad paths that leave free their passions and vices that contradict god’s law.
Our Lady also invites us to theapostolate in all its forms: prayer, sacrifice, charity for our neighbour, forgiveness, etc., but she clarifies that, before each apostolate, our union with Christ in prayer is necessary, because without him we cannot do and give anything and all our work would be ineffective.
Finally Sister Lucy explains the meaning of the three visions of the last apparition (October 13, 1917). First vision: the appearance of the Holy Family is an exhortation to the sanctification of the family (we see how timely this is today; Secondly, the apparition of Our Lady of Sorrows shows us the value of suffering and immolation out of love, which purify us from sin; Third: the apparition of Our Lady of Carmel reminds us of the beauty and greatness of the religious vocation and of all the virtues that it requires, in addition to the importance, for consecrated persons and priests, of wearing the religious habit (and the cassock) to remind everyone who they are, who they represent and who they belong to.
In short, we can say that all our Lady’s appeals can be summed up in a great appeal addressed to all men and women: holiness! This is the universal vocation of every person, regardless of his state of life.
This concludes our series of articles on Fatima: we obviously do not presume to have exhausted its contents, but the hope, at least, of having provided some useful ideas for the spiritual life. The spiritual, theological and historical significance of this extraordinary event, like everything that in some way touches the divine Mystery, certainly cannot be contained in a few pages or in a book. As Benedict XVI said at Fatima, we believe that the prophetic content of these messages is not yet fully realized, just as we are convinced that Fatima is very uncomfortable today, in that it recalls values and Truths often questioned or concealed, because of the secularization of society, but also because of a certain apostasy within the Catholic world itself that shakes the foundations of the Faith. However, we place our trust and hope in Our Lady’s promise:“My Immaculate Heart will triumph!”