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The visionary and seer, Sr. Lucia of Fatima, provided the world with profound and inspired Rosary meditations in her book, “Calls” from the Message of Fatima. We begin this week by presenting her meditations on the Joyful Mysteries. – Ed.

Having seen that the prayer of the Rosary is the one which God has recommended most for all of us in general, both by means of the Church’s Magisterium and through the Message which He sent to us by Our Lady, we will now look at the mysteries of our Redemption which this prayer leads us to recall and contemplate in each decade.

For the majority of Christians who live in the corrupt atmosphere of the world, it is almost pointless to talk about mental prayer. Hence, what is most suitable for them is vocal prayer, in common or in private: the liturgical prayer of the Holy Mass and the recitation of the Rosary.

In the Rosary, we find all the riches of God’s truths, or rather, the revelation of God to men. From the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which God revealed to us in the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, to the mystery of the Word made man, his life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and is also present in his Church, in the Sacraments, in the tabernacle where He remains in the consecrated hosts, and in our brothers and sisters who form, with us, his Mystical Body, of which we are all living and functioning members.

This is the faith, which we imbibe in prayer, and it is prayer which sustains and increases our faith. As we pray the mysteries of the Rosary, we receive the light of truth and the strength of grace in order to accept willingly, and co-operate in, the redemptive work of Christ.

First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

In the first decade, we recall the annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin… and the virgins name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:26-35).

In this passage, God reveals to us how the incarnation of the Word took place; He speaks to us of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that is one God in three distinct Persons: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

God also reveals to us the virginity and immaculate purity of Mary: God did not choose just any woman to be the Mother of His Son who, of course, could not assume a nature stained by sin. Therefore, He made Mary immaculate from the first instant of her life, the moment of her conception; and she remained always a virgin, because the Son of God could not be confused with any other, according to his human nature, which would happen if another child were born of the same Mother.

The Angel told Mary that she was full of grace: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” If Mary had not been full of grace and all holy, the Angel could not have said to her that she was full of grace, because she would have some stain of sin in her. “The Lord is with you”—said the Angel—because Mary belongs totally to God and exists totally for God. To think that Jesus shared his Mother with us! He gave us Mary to be our Mother in the spiritual order of grace. What a great gift God has given us!

And the Angel continued: “Mary, do not be afraid: you have won God’s favor.” Yes, she had caught God’s attention because she was a virgin, pure and spotless, and, therefore, was chosen to be the first human temple inhabited by the Most Holy Trinity. Through the merits of the Word made flesh, from whom we receive pardon and grace, we also, if we are fortunate enough to possess the gift of faith and to live a good life, are living temples of the adorable Trinity, which dwells in us according to the sacred texts: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:15-17). And St. Paul draws our attention to the same truth: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. Let no one deceive himself” (1 Co 3:16-18).

Jesus Christ and the Apostle tell us here that we are living temples of God and that we must keep our temple pure, because we are God’s dwelling-place, and also in order that God’s life may grow in us and may give us immortality.

Ave Maria!

Second Joyful Mystery: The visit of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth

In the second decade, we recall Our Lady’s visit to her cousin, St. Elizabeth. In the first mystery, we left the Angel talking to Mary and adding afterwards:

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

In those days Mary arose and went in haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:36-45).

This meeting of Our Lady and her cousin St. Elizabeth shows us Mary’s great faith and deep humility. This is obvious at once in her answer to the Angel, when he announced that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God. She does not feel herself exalted, or raised to a higher level. She believes the Angel’s words; she recognizes her lowliness before God and offers herself to serve Him as a slave: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

And, thinking always of God’s mercy, Mary answers her cousin: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Lk 1:46-48).

The Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth intone here the most beautiful canticle of praise to God. Their lips are moved by the Holy Spirit. But, after all, was not Mary the living temple of the adorable Trinity!

Ave Maria!

Third Joyful Mystery: The Birth of Jesus Christ

In the third decade of the Rosary, we recall the birth of Jesus Christ, God made man. He is the masterpiece of love! God who comes down from heaven to earth, to save his poor creatures.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51)—He would say later, in the synagogue at Capernaum. Yes, He came from heaven; He became man, assuming the humble condition of a creature! He who is God, co-eternal with the Father, equal to the Father in power, wisdom and love! He is born as man, but He is eternal like God! A mystery which the Apostle St. John describes thus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:1.14).

He came into the world as a man and manifested Himself as Light. Light, which shines in the darkness: present among us, today as then, but now his humanity is veiled. He is present in his word and in his works, in the Eucharist and in the Sacraments, in the Church and in the person of each of our brothers and sisters. He says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). Those who follow Christ will find in Him light and life.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them (Lk 2:1-20).

As St. Luke says here, the shepherds came and heard what was said to them, they believed and praised God. In the same way, we, too, must renew our faith in the revelation which God gives us here; we must believe and say, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.” And, like Our Lady, we must keep all these truths in our hearts, with faith, hope and love.

Ave Maria!

Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

In the fourth decade of the Rosary, we call to mind the presentation of Jesus in the temple. St. Luke describes this event in the life of Christ in the following terms:

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord), “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” (Lk 2:21-23).

Circumcision, prescribed by God in the Old Law, was replaced by Baptism, of which it was a figure, and which Jesus Christ was to institute later as a Sacrament, to wipe out the stain of original sin in us, to make us members of his Mystical Body and sharers in the graces of his redemptive work.

The example of fidelity in the observance of God’s Law which Our Lady gives us here should move us to follow the same road of fidelity to God and his Church.

Fulfilling this commandment to present her first-born in the Temple to be offered to the Lord, Mary is, at the same time, carrying out the mission entrusted to her by God, that of Co-redemptrix of the human race. Mary knows the Sacred Scriptures and, through them, she knows that her Son is destined to be a victim of expiation for the sins of men and a sacrifice of praise offered to God.

Reflect on what Isaiah prophesied about this:

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin (Is 53:1-10).

Mary knows that this prophecy is to be fulfilled in the person of her Son; she knows that He has been sent by God to carry out the work of our redemption. And far from wanting to save Him from such pain and suffering, she takes Him in her pure arms, brings Him to the temple with her virginal hands and places Him on the altar so that the priest may offer Him to the eternal Father as an expiatory victim and a sacrifice of praise.

Here, Mary does not simply offer her Son, she offers herself with Christ, because Jesus had received his body and blood from her; thus she offers herself in and with Christ to God, Co-redemptrix, with Christ, of humanity.

In this mystery of the presentation of Jesus, the pure hands of Mary are the first paten on which God placed the first host; and, from this paten, the priest on duty in the temple of Jerusalem took it, to place it on the altar and offer it to the Father as something which is owed to Him and an offering with which He is well pleased. Here we have a figure; later will come the real Mass, when the sacrifice of expiation will be consummated on Calvary; Jesus, by His own hands, will offer Himself to the Father for men, under the consecrated species of bread and wine, saying to the priests of the New Covenant: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19), that is, offer My sacrifice to the Father so that it will be renewed on the altar for the salvation of the world. Because “This is my body which is given for you…. This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:19.20).

Ave Maria!

Fifth Joyful Mystery: The prayer of Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem

In the fifth decade of the Rosary, we recall the journey of Jesus Christ to the temple in Jerusalem, to take part in the communal prayer of the people of God. St. Luke describes this event in Our Lord’s life thus:

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions;… and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:41-49).

The Holy Family here gives us a great example of Christian life. Neither distance nor lack of transport deters them from journeying to the temple in Jerusalem to join their prayer to that offered to God by his people. The Jerusalem temple reminds us of the places of worship which, today, for us, are our Churches where we too should go, all together, to offer to God our prayer and praise.

In the answer He gave his mother, Jesus Christ tells us that the temple is the house of God: “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” For us, the Churches are our Father’s house and so we must enter them with faith, with respect and with love.

We go to our Father’s house, so that, there, united around the same table, we can be fed by the same bread: the bread of the Eucharist, the bread of the word of God. Like Jesus Christ, we must listen there to the word of God, which is spoken to us by his ministers, as it was formerly imparted to the people of God by the doctors of the law.

Today, we are the successors of that people; we who, happily, have received Baptism and, with it, the gift of faith, members, now, of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church.

Ave Maria!

This article is an excerpt from Sr. Lucia’s “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, distributed by Ravengate Press.

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I shall now endeavor to reply to the second (question), which is the one that has been put to me most frequently: “Tell us, Sister, what exactly happened during the first apparitions about which little or nothing has been said?”

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The eighth Call of the Message: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”

This call which the Message addresses to us is very explicit in the Gospel, but very many people misunderstand it, have forgotten it, ignore it, turn their backs on it and, saddest of all, revile it.

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Preceding the second apparition, the seers once again saw a great brilliance, which they called lightning, but rather was the glare of the approaching light. Some of the approximately fifty spectators who had come to the place noticed that the light of the sun became dimmer during the first few minutes of the conversation. Others said that the to of the budding holm oak bent down, as if under the weight of something, a moment before Lucia spoke. During Our Lady’s conversation with the seers, some of the bystanders heard a whispering like the humming of a bee. (Prophecies p. 44)

Lucia: What do you want of me?

Our Lady: I wish you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read. Later, I will tell you what I want. (Lucia asked for the cure of a sick person)

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As we near the 94th anniversary of the great July 13, 1917 message of Fatima, one of the most significant messages ever given by Our Lady, we feel it important to publish the message in its entirety, including the third part of the vision shown to the three children, which was released by Pope John Paul in 2000 and known as the Third Secret of Fatima. Let us reflect anew on Our Mother’s urgent call for prayer and conversion, more necessary now than ever. – Asst. Ed.

A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”

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During the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Lucia asked Our Lady if Francisco would go to heaven. Our Lady responded, “He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.” From that time onward, Francisco was known for his perpetual praying of the Holy Rosary as well as for being a contemplative who lived always “In the light and experience of God.” Above all, Francisco felt the call to console Our Lord, as he states: “More than anything else I want to console Him.” We here present Sister Lucia’s commentary on the life of Blessed Francisco. – Ed.

Apart from his features and his practice of virtue, Francisco did not seem at all to be Jacinta’s brother. Unlike her, he was neither capricious nor vivacious. On the contrary, he was quiet and submissive by nature.

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The Blessed Virgin urged the children at Fatima to pray the Rosary frequently and fervently. This article is an excerpt from Sr. Lucia’s “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, distributed by Ravengate Press. –Assistant Ed.

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Having looked at the events in the life of Jesus, which are recalled in the first part of the Rosary, we now pass on to the second part, the five Sorrowful Mysteries.
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As we approach the 97th anniversary of the October 13, 1917 apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Portugal, it’s appropriate to recall the wondrous events that took place, as recounted by Sister Lucia herself and other eyewitnesses. Let us look back through the eyes of those who were there the day the “sun danced.” 

We start with the description given by Sister Lucia in her Fourth Memoir:

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We have seen already how God, knowing the great need we have to pray, but also that everyone cannot be asked to pray in the same way because the possibilities and situations in each one’s life are so different, called for the daily recitation of the Rosary, thus condescending to the simple level which is common to all of us. During the very first apparition, on 13th May, 1917, Our Lady asked: “Pray the Rosary every day” and this request was to be repeated by her every month until October.

So, calling to mind the insistence with which God, by means of the Fatima Message, recommends the prayer of the Rosary, and also all that the Church’s Magisterium has said about it over the years, we can conclude that the Rosary is a form of vocal prayer which, in general, suits all of us, for which we should have the highest regard, and which we should make the greatest effort never to abandon.

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This call was made for the first time on 13th May, 1917, when the three little children from Aljustrel were pasturing their sheep in the field known as the Cova da Iria.

As was their custom, the three children ate their lunch shortly after noon, and then prayed. Then, to amuse themselves, they began to build a small wall of loose stones around a bush known as a “moita” from which people were accustomed to make sweeping brushes, hence the children’s desire to protect it so that the animals would not gnaw at it. They did this because, when they found such bushes in good condition, they liked to let them grow in order to make brushes from them later on, and these they would bring to their mother when they returned home at night.

When they did this, it was a joy to see their parents’ delight with their gift and with their caresses, so that each one did their best to find whatever would give them the greatest joy and pleasure. Poor, yes! But happy, because happiness comes not from riches nor from what can often be dangerous entertainments but from love. In truth, to love and to deny oneself for the sake of love is what brings happiness, joy, peace and well-being to families.

Well, as I was saying, the children were playing and amusing themselves when they were suddenly surprised to see a flash of light, which they thought must be lightning. It was a fine clear spring day, and the sun was shining, but the children were so small that they did not know how to interpret the look of the sky. Accustomed as they were to seeing flashes of lightning immediately after it had thundered, their only thought was to urge on the flock in order to return home before they got caught in a storm.

When they had gone a few steps down the slope they saw another flash of light, which they took to be a second flash of lightning, and this made them hurry even faster and urge the flock on even more. A few steps further on, about halfway down the slope, they stopped in surprise when they saw a lovely Lady of light on a small holm oak. They were not afraid, because the supernatural does not arouse fear; causing instead a pleasant surprise of absorbing fascination.

The lovely Lady opened her lips as if about to speak and said to the children:  “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.”

I think that these words of Our Lady—Do not be afraid—did not refer to any actual fear we might have had of Her, because She knew well we were not frightened of Her. The words must have referred to the fear that had caused us to hurry away from the supposed thunderstorm in which we thought we were going to get caught.

It has also been said that Francisco picked up a few stones to throw at the Apparition. I don’t think this can be true. There must have been some confusion or misunderstanding about the stones that shepherds often throw around the flock when they want to get the sheep to come together and move faster.

Once the silence had been broken, and encouraged by the trust that the lovely Lady inspired in us, I asked: “Where are you from?” “I am from Heaven” she replied. “And what do you want of me?” I asked. She replied: “I have come to ask you to come here on the 13th day of the month for six months in succession, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.”

When I heard this reply, the thought that I was talking to someone who had come from Heaven gave me courage and I asked whether I, too, would have the good fortune to go to Heaven, whereupon the Lady replied: “Yes, you will.” “And Jacinta?” I asked. “She will go too.” She replied. “And Francisco?” I persisted. She replied: “He will go too, but he must say many Rosaries.”

I think that this special injunction to Francisco is for all of us. It is not that saying many Rosaries, as such, is an indispensable condition for going to Heaven, but that we must pray much. Naturally, to say the Rosary every day was the most accessible form of prayer for those children, as it is today for the great majority of people, and there is no doubt that it will be difficult for someone to be saved if they never pray.

We know how weak we are, that we slip back and fall. Without the help of grace, we shall not be able to pick ourselves up or overcome temptations. We can only acquire the strength we need, the strength that comes to us from grace when our soul meets with God in prayer. It was Jesus Christ Himself who told us this and urged it on his Apostles shortly before He gave Himself up to death for us: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41). And He gave us an example, preparing Himself by his prayer in Gethsemane for his sacrifice and his death. In addition to this, among other things in the Our Father, He taught us to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Mt 6:13).

Now to return to the Apparition of Our Lady. I remember that I then asked her about a girl I knew who had died shortly before that; the reply Our Lady gave confirms that there is a Purgatory, and is at the same time yet another proof of the need we have to pray.

Sacred Scripture tells us that St. Peter went up to Jesus one day and asked Him: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'”

Then He went on:

Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

    But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, “Pay what you owe.” So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your hearts. (Mt 18:21-35)

This servant who was in danger of condemnation on account of the debt that he had incurred, threw himself at his master’s feet begging for mercy and to be given time to pay his debts: “Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.” Now, in this possibility of being given more time in which to pay what is lacking, we can see an image of Purgatory: a time of waiting to purify ourselves from any minor faults that we have not confessed, and of making any reparation we still owe for our sins because, while we were still living in this world, we had not done enough penance for them.

To begin with, the servant in the parable begged for complete forgiveness for everything, and this he was granted. But he then sinned again by his cruelty to his fellow servant, with the result that he ended up having to do penance and to pay all he owed to his master. This is what will happen to us, as Jesus Christ showed us by the conclusion of his story. The same thing will happen to us if, in addition to the forgiveness for our sins which we ask for and receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have not also made suitable reparation for them, including always the obligation on us to be merciful to others, as the Lord has been merciful to us.

Jesus taught us to ask for this, too, in the Our Father: “Our Father… forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12). Here it is clear that, in order to obtain forgiveness for our sins, we must ask for it from God, and that the extent to which forgiveness will be granted to us will be the same as the extent to which we have forgiven others for any wrongs they may have done to us. “Forgive and you shall be forgiven,” as Jesus explains after teaching us the Lord’s Prayer: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15).

The belief in the possibility of making expiation for sin after death also underlies an event described in the second Book of the Maccabees:

As Esdris and his men had been fighting for a long time and were weary, Judas called upon the Lord to show himself their ally and leader in the battle. In the language of their fathers he raised the battle cry, with hymns; then he charged against Gorgias’ men when they were not expecting it, and put them to flight. Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and they kept the sabbath there. On the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchers of their fathers. Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. (2 Mac 12:36-46)

This passage from Sacred Scripture helps us to understand better this truth of our faith concerning Purgatory as a place of expiation where the souls of those who die in grace are purified of all stain of sin before being admitted to eternal happiness with God.

Hence, Our Lady’s reply to the question I asked her about that girl—Amelia—was as follows: “She will be in purgatory until the end of the world.” This may seem a lot to us, but the mercy of God is always great. By our sins we have gravely offended Him and have deserved Hell! In spite of this, He forgives us and grants us time to pay for them and, by means of reparation and purification, to be saved. Moreover, He accepts the prayers and sacrifices that others offer to Him for the benefit of those who are in this place of expiation.

Our Lady then asked the three children the following question: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” To which I replied in the name of all three: “Yes, we are willing!”

At the time, this reply was given spontaneously and in ignorance, because I had not the remotest idea what it really meant nor what its full implications were. But I never regretted it; on the contrary I renew it every day, asking God for the grace and strength that I need to keep it faithfully until the end.

This question of Our Lady’s reminds me of the one Jesus put to the two sons of Zebedee, when they asked Him to grant them the two first seats in the Kingdom of Heaven: “But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able'” (Mt 20:22).

In order to attain salvation, we all have to drink of the chalice of self-sacrifice, renouncing our own illicit desires, our evil inclinations, our own exaggerated desire for comfort; while at the same time we must embrace whatever sacrifices life asks of us, whether material and physical, or moral, social and spiritual.

This kind of self-denial comes to everyone, even to those who do not have the happiness of possessing the gift of faith. They, too, are confronted by the need to make sacrifices, because the whole of humanity is marked by the sign of the redeeming cross of Christ, even when they are not aware of it, or do not wish to take advantage of it. We all have to carry that part of the cross of Christ which falls to us in the work of Redemption, because the cross weighs on account of sin, or rather, sin brings with it the weight of the cross.

In fact, it was in order to cleanse us from the stain of sin that Jesus Christ took upon Himself the weight of the Cross. But if this act of Christ is to be of benefit to us, each of us must take up his or her own cross with faith and love and carry it after Christ and in union with Christ; in other words, there is a need for sacrifice, accepted and offered to God with Christ for our own sins and for those of our brothers and sisters. It is in this sense that the Message asks us all, because it is addressed to all: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”

But, for a fragile nature, weakened by sin as ours is, the constant, generous and meritorious bearing of self-sacrifice is not possible without the special help of the grace of God, who upholds and strengthens us. This is why Our Lady replied to the children’s humble little “Yes” with a promise of the help of grace: “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

What a beacon of light these words of Our Lady are for us! In fact, we know our own weakness and we know that, of ourselves, we are not capable of producing the fruits of eternal life but only when united to Christ, as He tells us in the Gospel: “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). This is why our Mother in Heaven promises the consolation of God’s grace: consolation, in the sense of strength to assist our weakness; consolation, in the sense of grace which comes to console us, animate, help and support us. And it is this certainty that generates the confidence which we must have in God.

Putting up with any sacrifices that are asked of us in our day-to-day lives becomes a slow martyrdom which purifies us and raises us up to the level of the supernatural, through the encounter of our soul with God, in the atmosphere of the presence of the Most Holy Trinity within us. We have here an incomparable spiritual richness! Anyone who has understood this lives in Light; in this Light, which is not from the sun nor from the stars, but comes to us from the source from which every other light springs and receives its being. It is a living Light, which both sees and penetrates as it enlightens, and causes us to see what it wishes to show to us. It is the living Light of God.

Hence, when the three little children saw themselves bathed in this Light, without understanding quite what they were saying, they were led to repeat: “O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!” It was a supernatural impulse that accomplished in them what of themselves they were incapable of doing. It led them to believe in the real presence of God in the Eucharist. It is the gift of faith that God grants to our soul with the Sacrament of Baptism.

And Our Lady ended her Message on that 13th May 1917 with the words: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”

Why should Our Lady have told us to say the Rosary every day rather than telling us to go to Mass every day?

This is a question that I have been asked many times, and it is one which I should like to reply to here. I cannot be absolutely certain of the answer, as Our Lady did not explain, and it never occurred to me to ask. Hence, I say only what I think, and what I have come to understand about it all. In fact, I willingly leave all interpretation of the meaning of the Message to Holy Church, because it pertains to the Church to do so; hence, I humbly and willingly submit myself to whatever It may wish to say or to correct, amend or declare.

As regards the question referred to above, I think that God is Father; and as Father He adapts Himself to the needs and possibilities of his children. Now, if God, through Our Lady, had asked us to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, there would undoubtedly have been a great many people who would have said, quite rightly, that this was not possible. Some, on account of the distance separating them from the nearest church where Mass was celebrated; others on account of the circumstances of their lives, their state in life, their job, the state of their health, etc. On the other hand, to pray the Rosary is something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small.

All people of good will can, and must, say the Rosary every day. Why? In order to put ourselves into contact with God, to thank Him for his benefits and ask Him for the graces we need. It is the prayer which places us in familiar contact with God, like the son that goes to his father to thank him for the gifts he has received, to talk to him about his special concerns, to receive his guidance, his help, his support and his blessing.

Since we all need to pray, God asks of us, as a kind of daily installment, a prayer which is within our reach: the Rosary, which can be recited either in common or in private, either in Church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at home, either with the rest of the family or alone, either when traveling or while walking quietly in the fields. A mother of a family can say the Rosary while she rocks her baby’s cradle or does the housework. Our day has twenty four hours in it. It is not asking a great deal to set aside a quarter of an hour for the spiritual life, for our intimate and familiar converse with God.

On the other hand, I believe that, after the liturgical prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the praying of the Rosary, in view of the origin and sublime nature of the prayers used in it, and of the mysteries of the Redemption which we recall and on which we meditate during each decade, is the most pleasing prayer that we can offer to God, and one which is most advantageous to our own souls. If such were not the case, Our Lady would not have asked for it so insistently.

When I speak of saying the five or fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, I do not want to give the impression that God requires us to count the number of times that we address our supplications, our praise or our thanksgiving to Him. God certainly does not expect this of us: in Him everything is present! But we need to count, in order to have a clear and vivid idea of what we are doing, and to know positively whether or not we have completed what we had planned to offer to God each day, in order to preserve and enhance our relationship of intimacy with God and, by this means, preserve and enhance in ourselves our faith, hope and charity.

I would add that even those people who are able to assist at Mass every day should not, for this reason, neglect to say their daily Rosary. Obviously, the time they devote to saying the Rosary is not the same as that during which they are assisting at Mass. For such people, praying the Rosary can be looked upon as a way of preparing themselves to participate better in the Eucharist, or as an act of thanksgiving after it.

I don’t know, but from the little knowledge that I have from my contact with people in general, I see that there are very few truly contemplative souls who preserve and maintain within themselves a relationship of intimate familiarity with God which prepares them for the worthy reception of Christ in the Eucharist. Thus, vocal prayer is necessary for them too, meditated, pondered and reflected upon as much as possible, as the Rosary should be.

There are many fine prayers that can be used as a means of preparing to receive Christ in the Eucharist, and of maintaining our intimate relationship with God. But I do not think that we shall find one more suited to people in general than the praying of the five or fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. For example, the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours is marvelous, but I do not think it is accessible to all, nor that some of the psalms that one recites will be readily understood by all. It requires a certain degree of instruction and preparation which cannot be expected of all.

Perhaps for all these reasons, and others that we are unaware of, God, who is our Father and understands better than we do the needs of His children, chose to stoop to the simple ordinary level of all of us in asking for the daily recitation of the Rosary, in order to smooth for us the way to Him.

Finally, bearing in mind all that the Magisterium of the Church has said to us over the years about the praying of the Rosary… and what God, through the Message, has asked us for so insistently, we can conclude that the Rosary is the form of vocal prayer which is most suited to people in general, which we must appreciate, and which we must make every effort never to abandon. God and Our Lady know better than anyone else what is most appropriate for us and what we most need. Moreover, it will be a powerful means of helping us to preserve our faith, hope and charity.

Even for those people who do not know how, or who are not able to recollect themselves sufficiently to meditate, the simple act of taking the rosary in their hands in order to pray is already to become mindful of God, and the mention in each decade of a mystery of the life of Christ recalls Him to their minds; this in turn will light in their souls the gentle light of faith which supports the still smoldering wick, preventing it from extinguishing itself altogether.

On the other hand, those who give up saying the Rosary and who do not go to daily Mass, have nothing to sustain them, and so end up by losing themselves in the materialism of earthly life.

Thus the Rosary is the prayer which God, through his Church and Our Lady, has recommended most insistently to us all, as a road to and gateway of salvation: “Pray the Rosary every day.”

Ave Maria!

This article is an excerpt from Sr. Lucia’s “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, distributed by Ravengate Press.

Notes

(1) Our Lady, Fatima apparition of 13th May 1917.

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The ninth Call of the Message: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly.”

Here the Message presents to our faith and our adoration the mystery of the one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; it presents to us the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, one God and three distinct Persons.

We are dealing here with a mystery that has been revealed to us and which only in Heaven will we be able to comprehend perfectly. We believe in it, because God revealed it to us, and we know that our limited understanding is very far removed indeed from the power and the wisdom of God.

In the work of creation, which issued from the creative power of God, we see so many marvellous things concerning which we also do not understand how they came about, so we can look upon them as a figure of the Mystery that is placed before us by God for our consideration.

Thus, for example, each individual is a single person, but in this person there are so many separate things: some of a natural order, others of a supernatural order. We are a body, matter formed by God from the slime of the earth, and this body is kept in being from the products of that same earth from which the body was made and to which it will return. […]

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As soon as the children (in our village) reached the age of seven, they began to take their share in the running of the house by being taught how to look after the flocks. Like the Patriarchs and Kings of old, nearly every family had its little flock of gentle sheep which the children led out to graze in the green fields belonging to their parents. The flock helped considerably towards the maintenance of the family: milk and cheese, lambs to replace sheep that have grown old, or for sale on the market; wool which the women of the house used to spin, dye and then weave, in order to use it, later, to make warm colored shawls for the winter, or to make mats for the humble bedrooms, or round blue serge skirts with wide red stripes to adorn the Sunday clothes worn by the girls. Gold earrings reaching down to their shoulders, glistening medals hung round their necks, a scarf over their shoulders and a cool hat covering their heads decorated with gold beads and colored feathers completed their adornment.

Would that the clothes people wear in our own day had even a touch of the modesty, the respect for human dignity, displayed by those worn by the village women of those days! It will be good for us to recall here what Sacred Scripture has to say on this subject: “The Lord God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on” (Gen. 3:21).

Why did God clothe the first two human beings if, before that, they were naked? Scripture itself tells us the answer: […]

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“You shall not commit adultery” (Deut 5:18).

In these days when society seems to want to make a law of this sin, Sacred Scripture continues to repeat the commandment of God: “You shall not commit adultery.” It is the word of God, and the word of God does not change, nor does his Law: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void” (Lk 16:17).

This commandment obliges us all, each one according to his or her state of life, to preserve chastity. Those who feel they are called to the state of matrimony are obliged to preserve chastity until the time comes to contract a definite union blessed by God in the sacrament of Matrimony; they must treat each other with respect as in the case of a tree whose fruit is still green and which must mature so that its fruit may be gathered at the proper time. […]

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We all have a desire to preserve our temporal life, which passes with the days, the years, work, joys, sorrows and suffering. But how little we concern ourselves with eternal life! And yet, this is the only life that is truly decisive and that lasts for ever.

When God created human beings, He destined them for eternal life by sharing in his divine life. Hence, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27), and then went on to explain that “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). We see here that the human body was taken from the dust of the earth, but human beings received life itself from the very Being of God, from the creative breath of His lips. Hence, our soul is a spiritual being which participates in the life of God and is immortal. When the body becomes totally incapable of co-operating with the action of the soul, the soul leaves it and flies to its center of attraction, which is God.

But our participation in eternal life must be decided between two very different realities: Heaven or Hell. […]

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The Call to Sacrifice

Published on February 24, 2007 by in Marian Private Revelation

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“Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”

This call to sacrifice, which God now addresses to us, is something which we find in many pages of Sacred Scripture. It may seem superfluous to repeat it again here; but it will not be in vain, because we are all so forgetful and lackadaisical about fulfilling this great duty.

In the Old Testament, the priests used to offer sacrifices of animals, which they presented as propitiatory victims for themselves and for the people. But these victims were but forerunners, images, of the sacrifice of Christ who was to be the one true victim offered to God for the sins of all human beings. This sacrifice of Christ, who came to put an end to the images, was to be perpetuated in place of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. And we have it renewed on the altar every day in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is an unbloody repetition of the sacrifice of the Cross.

But this is not enough because, as St. Paul tells us (Col 1:24), we must complete in ourselves what is lacking in the Passion of Christ, because we are members of his Mystical Body. Now, when one member of the body is suffering, all the other members suffer with it, and when one member has to be removed, all the other members of the body are affected by this “sacrifice”; if one member is seriously diseased, even though the disease is restricted to one part of the body, the whole body suffers and dies. The same happens in the spiritual life. We are all ill, we all have many defects and sins; hence we all have a duty to make sacrifices, in union with Christ, the innocent victim, in reparation for our own sins and for those of our brothers and sisters, because we are all members of the one and the same Mystical Body of the Lord. […]

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The fifth Call of the Message: I ask Your pardon

Immediately after the call to charity, the Message speaks to us of forgiveness, urging us to ask God’s pardon for our brothers and sisters and also for ourselves; for those who do not believe and for those who do; for those who do not adore and for those who bow down in worship before God; for those who do not hope and for those who have every confidence; for those who do not love and for those who practice charity.

The fact is that we all need to obtain God’s pardon: for our lack of faith, which is often so fragile, for our hope which is often so weak, for our charity which is often so cold and insensitive, and for our adoration, which is often so languid. We ask pardon for those who do not believe, for those who do not adore, for those who do not hope and for those who do not love; and very often we ourselves are among this number!

For this reason, in what we call the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus Christ taught us to ask: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Mt 6:12). As we see, we cannot obtain God’s pardon unless we ourselves first forgive our brothers and sisters. It follows that we must not harbor resentment, ill-will, dislike, and still less a desire to avenge any offence, whether great or small, that one or other of our neighbors may have committed against us. Our forgiveness must be generous, complete and self-sacrificing, in the sense of overcoming ourselves. It will be necessary to silence within us the cry of revolt, to calm excited nerves, to keep a firm grasp on the reins of our own temper and keep a lid on the heat of our wounded self-love which, whether rightly or wrongly, feels bruised and irritated. […]

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The Call to Adoration

Published on August 25, 2006 by in Marian Private Revelation

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The second Call of the Message: I adore.

Here the Message draws our attention to the first commandment of God’s Law: “I am the Lord your God…. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex 20:2-5). And in another place, we read: “You shall serve the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (Ex 23:25).

By this Law, God commands us to adore Him alone, because He alone is worthy to be adored by his creatures. He forbids us to make idols out of the things that were created by Him and which are even more powerless than we are: they can do nothing and are worth nothing, which is why He forbids us to pay homage to them, or to adore them. […]

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“Jesus wants… to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

To establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means to bring people to a full consecration through conversion, self-dedication, intimate esteem, veneration and love. Thus, it is in this spirit of consecration and conversion that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We all know that a mother’s heart represents love in the bosom of a family. In fact, it is love which makes the mother bend over her baby’s cradle, sacrifice herself for it, give herself, rush to the defense of her child. All children trust in the heart of their mother, and we all know that we have in her a place of special affection. The same applies to the Virgin Mary. Thus the Message says: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” Hence, the Heart of Mary is the refuge and the way to God for all his children. […]

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All our hope must be placed in the Lord, because He is the one true God who created us with eternal love and redeemed us by sending his own Son, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, who suffered and died for our salvation.

It is this that the Gospel of St. John tells us in recording for us the following words of Jesus to Nicodemus:

Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (Jn 3:10-19) […]

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In her First Memoir, Sister Lucia records the heroic virtues of her cousin and companion, Blessed Jacinta. The level of sanctity reached by this seven-year-old girl as a result of the infused knowledge and graces of Our Lady of the Rosary represents a degree of sanctification truly extraordinary. It was said by Sister Lucia that Jacinta made the transition from a child to an adult on the day when she saw the vision of Hell (July 13, 1917), and from that time onward she had an unquenchable desire to prevent souls from going to Hell through her own prayers and sacrifices.

On May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta and thanked her for the prayers that she offered for Pope John Paul II after she had received a vision of a Holy Father of the future who was suffering much. John Paul II understood that Jacinta had been praying for him. With the possibility of Pope Benedict XVI traveling to Fatima to canonize Jacinta sometime in 2006, we have all the more reason to have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the life and heroic virtue of this Fatima seer. – Ed.

Before the happenings of 1917, apart from the ties of relationship that united us, no other particular affection led me to prefer the companionship of Jacinta and Francisco to that of any other child. On the contrary, I sometimes found Jacinta’s company quite disagreeable, on account of her oversensitive temperament. The slightest quarrel which arose among the children when at play was enough to send her pouting into a corner—”tethering the donkey,” as we used to say. Even the coaxing and caressing that children know so well how to give on such occasions, were still not enough to bring her back to play; she herself had to be allowed to choose the game, and her partner as well. Her heart, however, was well disposed. God had endowed her with a sweet and gentle character which made her at once lovable and attractive…. […]

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“Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended” (Our Lady, 13th October, 1917).

The Call that the Message is making to us here reminds us once again of the need to observe the first of all the commandments of God’s Law, in other words, the love of God. The precept to love God is the first of the commandments, not only on account of the unique greatness of the Object it contemplates, but also because it is this love which will lead us to fulfill faithfully all the other commandments.

Speaking to his people through Moses, God said: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut 6, 4-9). […]

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“Jesus wants… to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

To establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means to bring people to a full consecration through conversion, self-dedication, intimate esteem, veneration and love. Thus, it is in this spirit of consecration and conversion that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We all know that a mother’s heart represents love in the bosom of a family. In fact, it is love which makes the mother bend over her baby’s cradle, sacrifice herself for it, give herself, rush to the defense of her child. All children trust in the heart of their mother, and we all know that we have in her a place of special affection. The same applies to the Virgin Mary. Thus the Message says: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” Hence, the Heart of Mary is the refuge and the way to God for all his children. […]

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God chose to conclude the Message in Fatima, in October 1917, with three further apparitions which I regard as three more calls placed before us for our consideration, so that we may keep them in mind during our earthly pilgrimage. While the people were gazing in astonishment at the sun which had gone pale in the light of the presence of God, the three children saw, beside the sun, three distinct and, to us, significant apparitions.

I do not know whether or not the Church’s theologians and thinkers have attached any special significance or interpretation to these apparitions. They would certainly be able to do so in more precise language based on sacred doctrine. I am only speaking about them here in order to do what I have been asked to do, and within the limits imposed by my humble ignorance and poverty. Thus I propose to say quite simply what I think God wished to say to us with these three apparitions. […]

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The Call to Faith

Published on September 17, 2005 by in Marian Private Revelation

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One of the last works that Sister Lucia of Fatima wrote before her death was “Calls” from the Message of Fatima. Mother of all Peoples magazine is pleased to offer a series of articles excerpted from Sister Lucia’s book, which highlight her penetrating insights into the message, the call, of Our Lady at Fatima for all humanity. – Asst. Ed.

I want now to go back over the Message which the good God, through his most holy Mother, entrusted to the humble little shepherds of the Cova da Iria, in order to convey once again his perennial calls to the people of today, and in particular to those who come on pilgrimage to Fatima.

To say “pilgrims of Fatima” is the same as saying pilgrims of peace; I am told that there is a language in which the word Fatima means “peace.” At all events, we are all pilgrims of peace. We all desire and long for peaceful days, to be able to live in peace. But this peace will not be achieved until we use the Law of God as the norm and guide of our steps. Now the entire Message of Fatima is a call to pay attention to this divine Law. For this reason, we will go through it step by step and it will point out for us the way we are to go. […]

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After the inspired Word of Sacred Scripture and the doctrinal grace of the Catholic Catechism, I believe the third book that every Fatima devotee should have close at hand is the book of Sister Lucia, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima, which was released in English in 2002. A work truly directed by the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima constitutes a veritable Marian catechism of faith and life, written in a down to earth mode, which can be grasped by all members of the Faith and all people of good will. I have no personal doubt that Sister Lucia’s recent masterpiece will eventually become a spiritual classic, rightfully identified as the fruits of a mystic and of a saint.

This veritable Fatima catechism which includes inspired treatments on “In the Presence of God” (Chapter 1); “Calls From the Message of Fatima” (Chapter 2); “The Ten Commandments” (Part III) and “The Rosary” (Part IV), provides so many spiritual insights that the only true danger is that one might overlook some of the individual pearls amidst the overall treasure. […]

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The following descriptions of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima are taken from the Memoirs of Sister Lucia. – Ed.

The 13th of May, 1917

High up on the slope in the Cova da Iria, I was playing with Jacinta and Francisco at building a little stone wall around a clump of furze. Suddenly we saw what seemed to be a flash of lightning.

“We’d better go home,” I said to my cousins, “that’s lightning; we may have a thunderstorm.”

“Yes, indeed!” they answered. […]

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During the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Lucia asked Our Lady if Francisco would go to heaven. Our Lady responded, “He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.” From that time onward, Francisco was known for his perpetual praying of the Holy Rosary as well as for being a contemplative who lived always “In the light and experience of God.” Above all, Francisco felt the call to console Our Lord, as he states: “more than anything else I want to console Him.” We here present Sister Lucia’s commentary on the life of Blessed Francisco. – Ed.

Apart from his features and his practice of virtue, Francisco did not seem at all to be Jacinta’s brother. Unlike her, he was neither capricious nor vivacious. On the contrary, he was quiet and submissive by nature.

When we were at play and he won the game, if anyone made a point of denying him his rights as winner, he yielded without more ado and merely said: “You think you won? That’s alright! I don’t mind!”… If one of the other children insisted on taking away something belonging to him, he said: “Let them have it! What do I care?” […]

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In her First Memoir, Sister Lucia records the heroic virtues of her cousin and companion, Blessed Jacinta. The level of sanctity reached by this seven-year-old girl as a result of the infused knowledge and graces of Our Lady of the Rosary represents a degree of sanctification truly extraordinary. It was said by Sister Lucia that Jacinta made the transition from a child to an adult on the day when she saw the vision of Hell (July 13, 1917), and from that time onward she had an unquenchable desire to prevent souls from going to Hell through her own prayers and sacrifices.

On May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta and thanked her for the prayers that she offered for Pope John Paul II after she had received a vision of a Holy Father of the future who was suffering much. John Paul II understood that Jacinta had been praying for him. With the announcement of the possibility of Pope Benedict XVI traveling to Fatima to canonize Jacinta sometime in 2006, we have all the more reason to have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the life and heroic virtue of this Fatima seer. – Ed.

Before the happenings of 1917, apart from the ties of relationship that united us, no other particular affection led me to prefer the companionship of Jacinta and Francisco to that of any other child. On the contrary, I sometimes found Jacinta’s company quite disagreeable, on account of her oversensitive temperament. The slightest quarrel which arose among the children when at play was enough to send her pouting into a corner—”tethering the donkey,” as we used to say. Even the coaxing and caressing that children know so well how to give on such occasions, were still not enough to bring her back to play; she herself had to be allowed to choose the game, and her partner as well. Her heart, however, was well disposed. God had endowed her with a sweet and gentle character which made her at once lovable and attractive…. […]

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On June 13, 1929, Sister Lucia received an extraordinary apparition which perhaps, in a single image, best summarizes the entire message of Fatima. In this apparition the Fatima seer receives a revelation of the Trinity and the quintessential role of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in exigency and service of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is accompanied by Our Lady’s words, “The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.” We here publish the description of the June 13, 1929 apparition by Sister Lucia. – Ed.

It was at this time that Our Lady informed me that the moment had come in which she wished me to make known to Holy Church her desire for the Consecration of Russia, and her promise to convert it. The communication was as follows:

I had sought and obtained permission from my superiors and confessor to make a Holy Hour from eleven o’clock until midnight, every Thursday to Friday. Being alone one night, I knelt near the altar rails in the middle of the chapel and, prostrate, I prayed the prayers of the Angel. Feeling tired, I then stood up and continued to say the prayers with my arms in the form of a cross. The only light was that of the sanctuary lamp. Suddenly the whole chapel was illumined by a supernatural light, and above the altar appeared a cross of light, reaching to the ceiling. In a brighter light on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body as far as the waist, upon his breast was a dove also of light and nailed to the cross was the body of another man. A little below the waist, I could see a chalice and a large host suspended in the air, on to which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side. These drops ran down on to the host and fell into the chalice. Beneath the right arm of the cross was Our Lady and in her hand was her Immaculate Heart. (It was Our Lady of Fatima, with her Immaculate Heart in her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames). Under the left arm of the cross, large letters, as if of crystal clear water which ran down upon the altar, formed these words: “Grace and Mercy.”

I understood that it was the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity which was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.

Our Lady then said to me:

“The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

I gave an account of this to the confessor, who ordered me to write down what Our Lady wanted done.

Later, in an intimate communication, Our Lord complained to me, saying:

“They did not wish to heed my request!… Like the King of France, (1) they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars, and persecutions of the Church: the Holy Father will have much to suffer.”

Excerpted from Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Secretariado Dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, 2004, Appendix II.

Notes

(1) In 1689, one year before her death, Saint Margaret Mary tried by various ways and means to reach the “Sun King,” Louis XIV of France, with a message from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with four requests: to engrave the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the royal flags; to build a temple in His honor where He would receive the homage of the Court: the King was to make his consecration to the Sacred Heart; and he should pledge his authority before the Holy See to obtain a Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

However, nothing was achieved. It seems that this message never even came to the knowledge of the King

Only a century later, the royal family would respond, in the measure possible, to this message. Louis XVI, in 1792, conceived the idea of his vow to the Heart of Jesus, but he could only carry it out in the Temple prison, promising to fulfill all the requests communicated by St. Margaret Mary, after his liberation. But, for Divine Providence it was now late: Louis XVI was guillotined on 21 January, 1793.

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On December 10, 1925, Our Lady of Fatima appeared once again to Sister Lucia, who was now a religious sister of the Congregation of St. Dorothy. This pivotal message describes the conditions now known as the “Five First Saturdays” devotions, which carry with them the promise of salvation for those who fulfill them with the specific intention of offering reparation for the sins and sacrileges committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Along with the four conditions of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Mass, five decades of the Rosary and fifteen minutes of meditation on any individual or combined Mysteries of the Rosary, it was further clarified that the Sacrament of Confession could be received within eight days of the First Saturday, to avail those who found access to the Sacrament more difficult.

As the Second Vatican Council teaches that in her role as Mediatrix Our Blessed Mother “Brings to us the gifts of eternal salvation” (Lumen Gentium, 62), we see how Our Lady of the Rosary exercises this role of mediation as well as that of intercession for the salvation of her earthly children. It is the words of the Child Jesus that call Lucia and all humanity to “have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother.” Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is therefore an act of obedience to the Heart of Christ who calls us to atone for the ingratitude of men who pierce the Heart of His Mother, and our Mother, “at every moment.” – Ed.

On December 10th, 1925, the most holy Virgin appeared to her, and by her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was a child. The most holy Virgin rested her hand on her shoulder, and as she did so, she showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which she was holding in her other hand. At the same time, the Child said:

“Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”

Then the most holy Virgin said:

“Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”

Excerpted from Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Secretariado Dos Pastorinhos, Fatima, 2004, Appendix I.

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On three occasions in 1916 and the early part of 1917 the three Fatima children received apparitions from the “Angel Guardian of Portugal” in preparation for the 1917 apparitions from Our Lady of the Rosary. The messages from the angel contain profound references to devotion to the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation and inspired prayers given to the children to pray in reparation to God and for the conversion of sinners. The two prayers which begin with “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you…” and “Most Holy Trinity…” are revealed prayers focusing on Eucharistic Adoration and Reparation which remain invaluable for bringing to fulfillment the Fatima call. The three angelic apparitions are here described by Sister Lucia as found in her Memoirs. – Ed.

The dates I cannot set down with certainty, because, at that time, I did not know how to reckon the years, the months, or even the days of the week. But I think it must have been in the spring of 1916 that the Angel appeared to us for the first time in our Loca do Cabeço.

…After having taken our lunch and said our prayers, we began to see, some distance off, above the trees that stretched away towards the east, a light, whiter than snow, in the form of a young man, transparent, and brighter than crystal pierced by the rays of the sun. As he drew nearer, we could distinguish his features more and more clearly. We were surprised, absorbed, and struck dumb with amazement. […]

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