First of all, we have to define: what are the apparitions of Fatima?
Fatima begins with a prelude in 1915 (see below). In 1916, Lucy, Francis, and Jacinta had three apparitions of an angel in spring, summer, and autumn. In 1917, Our Lady appeared to them six times from 13 May until 13 October at a place called Cova da Iria, with the exception of August 1917. That day the children were brought into prison and could not be present at the place of the apparition. However, on August 19, Our Lady appeared to them at a place called Valinhos. On 13 July, Our Lady promised to come again two times to establish the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart and to ask for the consecration of Russia. On 10 December 1925, She appeared to the postulant Lucy in Pontevedra, and on 13 May 1929, in Tuy. Both Jacinta and Sr. Lucy had further apparitions of Our Lady for their personal benefits. Sr. Lucy had several revelations from Our Lord and Our Lady (not visions, but like interior voices), who answered her questions concerning the practice of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
If someone wants to understand the full message of Fatima, he has to know all the details of the three apparitions of the Angel, and the eight apparitions of Our Lady Herself. It is also of utmost importance to collect the major words spoken by the children of Fatima about the subject, as well as to consider their life and behavior as an authentic answer to the request of Our Lady. In this way, they become guides for us to live the message of Fatima, and so to become true apostles of Fatima.
The year 1915
The history of Fatima has an interesting prelude in 1915: the day of Lucy’s first confession she had knelt before the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary in the parish church “to ask Her with all the ardor of my soul, to keep my poor heart for God alone. As I repeated this humble prayer, over and over again, with my eyes fixed on the statue, it seemed to me that she smiled and, with a loving look and kindly gesture, assured me that she would. My heart was overflowing with joy, and I could scarcely utter a single word.” After her first communion (Lucy was then 8 years old), she took over the care of the sheep of the family. One day, together with three other girls, she went into the surrounding fields to pasture the sheep: “Around midday, we ate our lunch. After this, I invited my companions to pray the Rosary with me, to which they eagerly agreed. We had hardly begun when, there before our eyes, we saw a figure poised in the air above the trees; it looked like a statue made of snow, rendered almost transparent by the rays of the sun. ‘What is that?’ asked my companions, quite frightened. ‘I don’t know.’ We went on praying, with our eyes fixed on the figure before us, and as we finished our prayer, the figure disappeared.” This apparition occurred two times. Later, Lucy explained that: “this apparition made a certain impression upon me, which I don’t know how to explain. Little by little, this impression faded away, and were it not for the events that followed, I think I would have forgotten it completely.”
What is the sense of these silent heavenly interventions?
First: If God is about to accomplish great things amongst men, He usually prepares those chosen ones so that they may become His fit and proper instruments. Lucy was a little child, full of common sense and a very simple soul. But she was chosen for an extraordinary life, which demands heroic humility and a deep love ready to suffer immensely.
These extraordinary tasks need extraordinary graces. The smile of Our Lady was the first deep and overwhelming contact with the supernatural world, and such “touches” sanctify the soul enormously. The Angel’s presence gives an understanding of the greatness of this supernatural world, which makes a deep “impression” in the soul, so great, that human words cannot explain.
Second: After these apparitions, little Lucy’s first few sufferings were from her family. Before, she was the cherished “little one.” Now, she had to learn what it costs “to have visions” and to be the confidante of Heaven. Far from profiting from it, from finding herself exalted and adulated, she lost everything that made her childhood happy. Speaking of the criticisms from her mother and her sisters, Lucy wrote: “I felt these contemptuous words and gestures very keenly, as up to now I had been used to nothing but caresses.”
LESSONS FOR US:
Already these silent preludes give us important lessons
If great events are about to come, God prepares for them. He sends His messengers, angels and saints, to make the people open for the future graces. For Lucy, it was the smile of the Queen of the Holy Rosary (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus also was cured by the smile of Our Lady of Victories!) and the three silent apparitions of an angel. For us it is the grace of becoming Knights of the Immaculata, and the messengers sent to us are the great Marian Saints, to bring us close to our Heavenly Mother. Saint Grignion de Montfort makes us understand how much we need Her to sanctify ourselves, and Saint Maximilian brings us under Her banner, so that we can fulfill the will of God and answer the call of Christ the King. We also should be closer to Saint Michael the Archangel and to our Guardian Angel, who in similar ways are silent, yet give us deep heavenly “impressions.”
Heaven, the angels and saints, and God Himself, are so infinitely above our experience that God Himself must prepare us for this infinite light. The modernist and charismatic movements of nowadays, besides many other Protestantism, have also the sad merit to destroy the true understanding of God as infinite majesty. If the children already tremble before an angel appearing to them from quite far away, what must it be like to be before God Himself, the Creator of an almost infinite number of angels?
We are accustomed to talk to Jesus almost as we would talk to a colleague, and to approach Our Lady like a nice, beautiful mother. We complain to them as if they are just a little bit more than we are.
If St. John falls on his knees before an angel because of his majesty; if the apparition of Saints made people fall on the ground, not having the courage to look into their eyes, how much this behavior of deepest reverence differs from ours.
Therefore, we have to learn again to behave properly before the supernatural realities. Otherwise, we will never really meet them.
The closer we come to God, the more we have to suffer. The children of Fatima will receive immense happiness and joy from Our Lady, but they have to “pay for it.” The same for us “Apostles of Fatima”: the more we want to serve God, the more the worldlings reject us. The suffering generally comes from people to whom we have been close to. If you want to serve Our Lady, you will lose your so-called friends. You will suffer misunderstanding, humiliation, derision, and contempt. But be assured that you will receive other friends; you will receive consolations the world does not know.
Dear Knights of the Immaculata, Apostles of Fatima: WE ARE IN 2016.
Exactly 100 years after these events, be sure that again Heaven wants to prepare for the great events to come in 2017. How much better instruments we would be in Her immaculate hands, if we learnt these lessons and apply them in our life!