Authored by Jorge Sanchez
Have you ever stopped to think about the world and its many problems? Of these problems, which one is the biggest? Pope Pius XII says that “The greatest sin today is that men have lost the sense of sin.” We live in a world where doing what is right is considered so wrong.
In honor of the 100 years since the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima, I recently read “Fatima: The Great Sign” by Francis Johnston. The book goes into an explanation of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima and the messages she gave to the three young children (Lucia, Fernando and Jacinta). The messages she gave to them — penance, prayer and devotion to her Immaculate Heart — seem to be forgotten.
Recently, we (seminarians) went to the March for Life in Washington DC. This was my first time attending and it was very eye opening to see a sea of people fighting for life. The day before we attended the Vigil Mass at which Cardinal Dolan was the main celebrant. One of his main messages was how the church is a sanctuary where “we seek protection, grace, mercy, and guidance in a holy, safe, secure place that reeks of the divine, that envelops us in God’s embrace, where we sense the presence of our heavenly mother, as we are renewed by prayer.”
One of our Lady’s message is prayer. In each one of her apparitions Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary. St. Padre Pio also tells us to “Pray the Rosary frequently. It costs so little, and it’s worth so much.” If we are able to take just a few minutes out of our busy days to pray for the unborn, world peace, conversions or whatever may be in our hearts, it would make a greater difference in this world. The rosary is one of the most powerful weapons we have. It just requires us to be participants — our Lady takes care of the rest.
Our Lady of the Rosary also asked the children to do penance and to turn away from sin. The children practiced many acts of penance. St. Faustina did so by spending extra time kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament and reducing her meal portions by half. St Louis de Montfort writes that “penances and mortification such as fasts, vigils and other austerities are practiced by holy penitents.”
Our Lady gave the children a vision of hell and explained that is where the “souls of poor sinners go” and later explained that God wants to save souls by establishing “in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” A few years after the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary, Lucia explained that a personal consecration to unite ourselves to the Blessed Virgin is to identify ourselves more closely with all her children who are our brothers and sisters through her. We can consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by wearing the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. When Lucia was asked if the “scapular is as important as the rosary in fulfilling the Fatima message” she replied that the “scapular and the rosary are inseparable.” In wearing the scapular, we should strive to imitate our Lady’s beautiful spirit of recollection, humility, purity, patience and charity so that God may see the likeness of His own Mother shining in the souls of His Children.
It has been 100 years since the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary. Since that time there have been millions who have prayed the Rosary, done penance and made pilgrimages to Fatima. In 1982, Pope St. John Paul II made a personal pilgrimage to the shrine, believing that it was through the intercession of Our Lady that his life was spared when was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. If our hearts are a battleground, we have entrust ourselves to Our Lady that she will intercede for each and every single one of us. We have to unpack our hearts and share our silence with her. We have to continue praying for ourselves and for the whole world, that through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary we can be strong and continue bringing the message of Fatima to this world in which we live.