Today the Church remembers a rather recent mystery of our faith – Our Lady of Fatima. Back in 1917 on this very date – May 13th, three poor Portuguese children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were doing some of their daily household chores – and praying the rosary as they normally did – when a bolt of lightning caught their attention and they saw a brilliant figure, which they described as a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”
Despite widespread skepticism from the authorities – both religious and civil – the story spread as the lady would appear each month on the 13th day. “The Lady” called on people to pray for the conversion of sinners, for an end to World War I which was ravaging Europe at the time. On her final appearance in October or 1917, in front of a crowd of over 70,000 people, she identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. While only the 3 children could see and hear her, the crowd saw a sign in the heavens where the sun appeared to “dance” in the sky. (You can google “Miracle of the Sun” to read stories about that day).
When we share stories like this of Marian Apparitions – they can be confusing, sometimes a bit off putting for people. Especially for our fellow non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters. They hear us refer to and see statues of Our Lady of Fatima and think that we’re worshiping Mary. That we’ve made her almost another person of the trinity (which doesn’t make sense – trinity is 3… but you get my point) And to be fair, some of the devotions and fascination with this event might contribute to that misunderstanding. But at the core of this miracle; the focus of all the mysterious and dramatic events surrounding Fatima; and quite simply, at the heart of Mary – is Jesus. Mary, like any good Mother, knows what is most important to their children. Mary knows that her son Jesus has come so that as we heard in today’s Gospel we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” And so her reaching out in this particular way to the people of that specific time, location in a way that ultimately spoke to them and helped transform many hearts was only repeating a message that is timeless – words that we said on Ash Wednesday: Repent, and believe in the Gospel. Words that are part of the daily life of the Christian – the need to pray without ceasing. May we heed those calls, confident that our blessed mother, Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary is indeed praying for us.