Oc­to­ber 13 - Our Lady of Fa­tima

The Freeman - - OPINION -

The story of the three chil­dren, Lu­cia, Fran­cisco, and Jac­inta who nar­rated that they saw a "lady, dressed in white, more bril­liant than the sun," was not eas­ily ac­cepted at first by the adults in their home and in their place in Fa­tima, Por­tu­gal.

In her last ap­pari­tion on Oc­to­ber 13, 1917, she iden­ti­fied her­self as "The Lady of the Rosary." The 70,000 who came for this ap­pari­tion "saw the sun make three cir­cles and move around the sky in an in­cred­i­ble zigzag move­ment." The Church has since ap­proved the ap­pari­tions as au­then­tic.

Dur­ing our el­e­men­tary and high school days at a Catholic school, sto­ries about Our Lady's ap­pari­tions were of­ten nar­rated. The Fa­tima ap­pari­tion is a fa­vorite story among Catholic be­liev­ers around the world. The mes­sage of Fa­tima is al­ways taught as "the ex­hor­ta­tion to prayer as the path of sal­va­tion of souls" and "the sum­mons to penance and con­ver­sion."

A Catholic write-up noted that when Our Lady of Fa­tima de­clared that her "Im­mac­u­late Heart will tri­umph," Car­di­nal Ratzinger in­ter­preted this to mean that "the heart open to God, pu­ri­fied by con­tem­pla­tion of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of ev­ery kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the his­tory of the world be­cause it brought the Sav­ior into the world be­cause, thanks to her, God could be­come man in our world and re­mains so for all time. The Evil one has power in this world, as we see and ex­pe­ri­ence, he has power be­cause our free­dom lets it­self be led away from God. But since God him­self has a hu­man heart and steered hu­man free­dom to­wards what is good, the free­dom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that pre­vails is this –in this world, you will have tribu­la­tion, but take heart; I have over­come the world– with the mes­sage of Fa­tima invit­ing us to trust in this prom­ise.

De­vo­tion to Our Lady is wide­spread, with many fe­male chil­dren named af­ter her: Mary, Maria, Maria Rosario, Maria Fa­tima, Maria Gra­cia, and so on. Many have sto­ries to share about their re­la­tion­ship with Mama Mary.

With God's grace, I have been to Lour­des and Akita, where Our Lady ap­peared. Mil­lions con­tinue to visit to thank Our Lady in Lour­des for mir­a­cles granted and for prayers and pe­ti­tions heard. The place is marked by so many prayers, masses, songs it is de­scribed as a heaven on earth as so much unity and peace reign within this place.

Akita in Ja­pan is a snowy lo­ca­tion and is less vis­ited than Lour­des. Like­wise, one ex­pe­ri­ences so many prayers, shared si­lence, and peace in this place vis­ited by Our Lady.

Thirty-four years ago, a Thai stu­dent, a Protes­tant, came home from a trip to Hokkaido in Ja­pan with a present for me –a beau­ti­ful white, porce­lain statue of Our Lady of Poverty. In one earth­quake that hit the for­eign stu­dents' dorm in Tokyo, this statue fell but landed in the leaves of a nearby plant and did not break. Again, dur­ing the huge 2013 earth­quake that de­stroyed so many churches in Bo­hol and Cebu, the same statue of Mama Mary fell but again, was caught by a plant and was not bro­ken. Un­til now, Our Lady of Poverty grate­fully re­mains stand­ing beau­ti­fully be­side my bed, al­ways re­mind­ing me about her love for us all and about her re­quest for us to pray the rosary and for peace and penance.

‘The word that pre­vails is this –in this world, you will have tribu­la­tion, but take

heart; I have over­come the world– with the mes­sage of Fa­tima invit­ing us to trust

in this prom­ise.’

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