SUMMER 1916 – THE SECOND APPARITION OF THE ANGEL
Summer in Portugal is always very hot, and during noontime everybody takes a rest. So the children often spent that time close to the well in the garden of Lucy’s home to play in the shadow of the trees. And there the Angel surprised them a second time saying: “What are you doing? Pray, pray very much! The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”
“How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked.
“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.”
This apparition brings some new aspects to the whole message of Fatima:
- THE HOLY HEARTS OF JESUS AND MARY
Already at the end of the first apparition the angel mentioned: “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications”. This time he declares: “The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you”. During the third apparition (see next article), he teaches the children the second part of the famous “Prayer of the Angel” which terminates with the words: ‘Through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.’
These allusions bring us already into the center of the great message of Our Lady. Obviously the children had to be prepared for such an important call from Heaven; therefore, the Angel in each apparition mentions the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
During the first apparition, the children pray to God Himself, but who is “attentive” to their prayers and exalts them? – The Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
In this very simple way we learn again, that there is only one way to God: through the mediation of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In this apparition the Angel announces to the children their future vocation, a gesture of infinite mercy towards them. The task God gives us to accomplish in our life, the “designs” of the Most Holy Trinity, His holy will – again we receive it only through the mediation of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Finally, at the third time, the grace of conversion of the poor sinners comes again.
It is only “by the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary”.
Notice, that the first time the Angel says only “the Hearts ….”
The second time he specifies: “The Holy Hearts” and the third time he makes it fully clear: “The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
In this way the children (and behind them all of us) are invited to go always deeper in our meditation:
Firstly, we should ask what does “heart” mean?
It means the very center of our personality, the most precious valuable we have, our intimacy, the source of our life, the seat of our love. So, when at this moment the Angel says that they are “attentive” towards us, it means that they open their intimacy to us, they direct their love towards us; we are not indifferent to them, on the contrary, we are the objects of their loving attention.
Secondly, we have to understand that these hearts are special: they are HOLY!
In the human heart is everything, from the best to the worst, as Our Lord says: “From the heart, from our innermost being come the bad thoughts. Here sins start. Here we get attached to all kinds of impurities, etc.”
But these Hearts are holy, which means perfect, without dirt or darkness, only beauty, light, and fullness of virtues, especially fullness of love.
Revealing this important detail, the Angel underlines their “designs of mercy”.
What does that mean? If these hearts are turned towards us in immense love, they want to communicate to us their holiness: and this is exactly their “designs of mercy”.
Mercy – misericordia is a Holy Heart (cor) that turns towards the nothingness and misery (miser) of the poor sinner to fill him with its infinite treasures. And what are these treasures? Their holiness, their incredible love, the eternal happiness.
Thirdly, they are the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart with their infinite merits.
What does this mean? These hearts are not something abstract, a theological metaphor, or a way of speaking by mystics. They are very concrete and have a concrete and visible history in our world.
The Sacred Heart had already appeared in history explaining to Saint John Eudes, Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, and especially to Saint Marguerite Mary Alacoque, what exactly this “Heart” means, what His desires are, it’s importance for us, how He wants to be worshipped, and what graces He gives to those who answer His request.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is just about to reveal accurately the same things in Fatima. And if we enter in this concrete appeal from Heaven, we will really “save poor sinners” and receive many, many other graces.
- THE ANGEL OF PEACE, THE ANGEL GUARDIAN, THE ANGEL OF PORTUGAL:
This gives an important precision to what we already said about the role of the angels in our life. The titles that the Angel gives to himself show that he is involved in very concrete historical and political realities. At the moment of his apparitions we were in the worst epoch of the First World War. The people were longing for peace and the Angel promised exactly this peace, giving the means to obtain it – prayer and sacrifice. When the crimes of men have been compensated for and the Justice of God appeased, when the chastisement shall have led the sinners to conversion, then peace will come!
Moreover, we learn here that not only does each one of us have a Guardian Angel, but even countries and nations. Now, the role of the Guardian Angel is to protect us from all evil and to guide us to Heaven. Therefore, not only our own souls, but also our countries, are not profane societies, which would have nothing to do with God and our eternal destiny. God wants to protect them through the angels to achieve their proper mission: to guarantee and promote a Christian world order by observing the Commandments of God and proclaiming Our Lord Jesus Christ King of Nations.
How is this “Angel of Peace”, the “Angel of Portugal”?
He did not reveal his name. However, in the breviary of the 29th of September we read: “Michael, the Angel of Peace”. Portugal always venerated Saint Michael the Archangel as their heavenly patron. There is even a feast in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel as the “Guardian Angel of Portugal”. Therefore, it is probable that the Angel of Fatima is none else than the chief and head of all angels in Heaven, which gives to the message of Fatima a very special weight and importance.
LESSONS FOR US: THE INTERPELLATION:
- What are you doing?
When God appeared to the great prophet Elias at Mount Horeb, He surprised him by saying to him: “What are you doing, Elias?”
Just the same with the children of Fatima: The Angel interrupted them suddenly when they were playing, asking: “What are you doing? Pray, pray much!”
The masters of spiritual life invite us to ask ourselves often “what are we doing right now?”
They want to emphasize that the present moment is most important in our lives, because only NOW we live, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Only NOW we can please God or offend God, use or waste our time, etc.
Let us hear the voice of our Guardian Angel, who very silently asks us the same: “What are you doing right now? Do you fulfill the will of God? Are you doing something which helps you on the way to Heaven? Or are you wasting your time…?”
- What is important in our life? Everything!
Even the banal nothings should become occasions to show our love to God.
If it is very difficult to make big sacrifices, to arrange important changes in our life, it is more than easy to “make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners”. Our movements, work and rest, day and night, all the many small trials and difficulties, even all circumstances of our life can be transformed to an incredible greatness and value: “One act of love towards God is worth more than the whole natural cosmos”, teaches Saint Thomas. And it will be exactly that, which will make Francisco and Jacinta saints after only two years of such life. How our banal, common, modest, and insignificant daily lives would change and become a source of salvation of many and of our holiness, if we answered more generously to the Angel’s request!
- Importance of sufferings:
He who professes “sacrifice” professes “sufferings”.
The Angel emphasizes: “Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you”.
Later, Sr. Lucy recalls these words of the Angel: “These words were indelibly impressed upon our minds. They were like a light which made us understand who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him and how, on account of it, He gives the graces of conversion to sinners. It was for this reason that we began, from then on, to offer to the Lord all that mortified us”. Later on, Our Lady Herself will continue this utmost lesson for our sanctification and for our role as “saviors of souls”.
By now, we should have learnt by heart and meditated over and over again these angelic words, each one like a light in our life. First, we must learn to “accept” and not (as habitually) to refuse or to grumble when a suffering comes. Then we must understand that the sufferings in our life are not fatalities coming “by chance or by mischance”, but they are sent from Our Lord because He loves us and, therefore, He wants us to gain many merits. How many rewards He has prepared for those, who in this world, go along with Him on the Way of the Cross, on the way of sufferings!