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Exactly 100 years ago, on May 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a small town of Portugal named Fatima to three young shepherd children. She revealed to them some important lessons about the spiritual life which are just as applicable today. In that apparition, she talked about the need for conversion, prayer and sacrifice to end World War I and prevent World War II. She stressed the importance of praying the rosary daily, of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and of offering our prayers and sacrifices to God for sins committed.

God has sent us the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us, direct us and care for us as a true mother. Some lessons from the apparitions at Fatima can still help us today.

“The Family that prays together stays together.” This was a saying made popular by Fr. Patrick Peyton who was strongly devoted to promoting the rosary, especially in families. In our hectic world, where families barely have enough time to eat dinner together, adding 15-20 minutes to gather everyone to pray the rosary seems like too much. However, it is perhaps the sign of our deep need for prayer rather than a legitimate excuse to avoid praying. There are nine individuals in our home. We struggle just like any other family, but praying the rosary is important, it is one of the messages that Mary repeated in all the apparitions to the shepherd children in Fatima, “Pray the rosary every day.”

In our family, in order to pray we need to humble ourselves, turn off the TV, turn off the tablets, turn off the music, put away the cell phones, pull up a chair, pull out a rosary and pray.

Hell is real. It is not a topic we like to think or talk about. But, during the third apparition, Our Lady showed the three children a vision of hell. She told them, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” In showing the children this vision, she also reminded all of us of the stark reality that can confront us. And it is also a reminder that we CAN pray for others and possibly save them from such a dire end. Sacrifices, big and small, can be offered to God for those who are most in need of God’s mercy. We may feel like we are “good” people and hell is not really in the cards for us, but what about all the people you know? What about the people you see in the news and on TV? Some of them might be in need of prayers. Could we bear to suffer a little in our own life as a prayer for them? Could we find the courage to suffer the pain in our hip without complaining of the conversion of sinners? I am not suggesting forgoing medical care, I am saying suffering what we normally suffer but NOW for a good cause. St. Paul puts it well:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…He Who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Je-sus.” (2 Cor 4:8-11)

Prayer has the power to change things. It is reaching the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary. The children learned several new prayers through the apparitions, and it is interesting to note the focus of these prayers. “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” This is typically called the “Fatima Prayer” and is usually said at the end of each mystery of the rosary. The pardon prayer, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.” A Eucharistic adoration prayer, “Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”

A prayer to be said when offering some type of sacrifice, “O my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” All of these prayers are still salutary and priceless gems for our lives. Let us avail ourselves of these heaven-sent prayers. It was these very prayers in union with the rosary and personal sacrifices that Our Lady said were so powerful that they could even end wars.

Because of her closeness to her divine Son, Mary will always have a role to play in our lives. In these times of violence, strife and doubt, God has sent her to us to reassure us of His care and His providence. Her message is no less important today than it was in 1917. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we can truly have hope for peace and for a better future. Peace not only for ourselves but peace for our families and peace for our world.

As Scripture tells us, she continues to be the handmaiden of the Lord, so that God’s will is accomplished through her intercession and maternal love. With the Blessed Virgin Mary by our side, we can walk in trust, and we can face our challenges confidently. She tells us herself, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

– Henry Reyes

This simple article is written from a modern viewpoint but tells the tremendous Fatima story in a comprehensible way.

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