The centennial anniversary for any historical event is impressive, there is something mysterious and attractive to an event once the third digit is added to its anniversary. Reaching one hundred years is a relatively rare thing in the animal kingdom: humans, tortoises, bowhead whales, and jellyfish to name a few centenarians. May 13, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Mary’s appearances to three young shepherd children in the city of Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady of Fatima’s message is always applicable. Here are three reasons why.
- Mary is Always God’s Mother: The Catholic Church has always believed that Mary is the Mother of God. Jesus entrusted Mary as Mother of the Church in John 19:26-27. The evangelist writes, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son. Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” To combat a false teaching that tried to deny Mary’s role as the Mother of God, the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. formally declared Mary as Theotokos– [God-bearer]. I think it is also fitting that the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima falls on the Eve of Mother’s Day! This is another reminder that Mary is mother to all.
- Divine Mercy: One of the most popular Catholic prayers that we learned from this Marian Apparitation in Portugal is simply known as the Fatima Prayer. It is a simple yet powerful prayer:
O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.
The most important message Mary brought to those three shepherd children to share with the rest of the world is– Divine Mercy. Mary desires to bring all people closer to her Son and we as Christians are called to pray for the the salvation of EVERYONE!
- Bridge to Islam: The single greatest book I have ever read about Mary is The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. He begins Chapter 17 of this book title Mary and the Moslems by mentioning the references Mary has in the Koran and the honor she has in the religion of Islam. The passage I found most fascinating is when Sheen explains why Mary appeared to the small village of Fatima, “Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.”In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”… Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too” ( The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God p. 141).
I agree with Sheen; the selection of Mary’s 1917 Apparition seems too fitting to be a mere coincidence. Let us continue to ask Mary to work in the hearts of non-Christians to draw them to Christ!
Today is also the completion of my wife and I’s Marian Retreat which culminates with a consecration to Jesus through Mary. Through drawing ourselves closer to the person who is closest to Jesus we ourselves are drawing ourselves closer to Jesus Himself. Thank you God for the gift of Our Lady of Fatima and we pray that all of humanity is able to more deeply grow in love!