October 13 - Our Lady of Fatima
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.’