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Our Lady of Fatima

Feast Day - 13th May

3 2us by Monsignor Leo Maasburg       
"The angel asked the children in Fatima if they were ready to go out and they say yes, we are ready to face the sufferings of this world which nobody can avoid. On 13th May 1981 another great person had to suffer and that was Blessed John Paul II. And I happened to be at St Peter's Square when, in the evening, hundreds and thousands of people gathered just to pray. There were candles on the ground where he had been shot and he was in hospital. We were praying the rosary there. Suddenly you could hear a strong clicking noise and the loud speakers were switched on in St Peter's Square. And after a long time, maybe 10 minutes, you could hear a very heavy breathing, very slowly, and already the word spread that this was a broadcast from the room of the Holy Father in hospital. And then a very, very slow, a real suffering voice came across "Totus tuus ego sum." A long silence; it took him I guess at least 3 minutes to pronounce these words. And then he said "I have forgiven the man who made an attempt on my life." I believe this is exactly what the message of Fatima wants to tell us: are we ready to offer our lives, are we ready to offer our sufferings, in order to be able to forgive?"

Rob, from London       
"My conversion to like really become Catholic was through the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Fatima. She's the person who showed me the light, who took me from the darkness and really has been beside me ever since, taking me in like a baby and she's just really been an inspiration and just unbelievable. She's been there for me always, ever since."

The Fatima Seers, the Little Shepherds, were Lucia dos Santos (aged 10) and her two cousins, Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7) Marto. The three children came from the hamlet of Aljustrel situated about 2 km from the Cova da Iria, where the apparitions of Our Lady took place. All three initially saw the Angel of Peace, or the Angel of Portugal, who appeared to them on three occasions during 1916, to teach them various prayers and prepare them for their meetings with the Mother of God. During the Angel’s last apparition, they received the Eucharist and, following these encounters, they would spend hours on their knees in imitation of the Angel who had knelt down and bowed his forehead to the ground in adoration, as they repeated the first prayer he had taught them: “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!”

The first apparition of Our Lady took place on the 13th. In Lucia’s words, they saw “a Lady, all dressed in white. She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it” (Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, vol I, p 174). Amongst other things, the Blessed Virgin told them that they would all go to heaven but that Francisco would need to say many rosaries first. When he was told what she had said, his joyous response was: “Oh, my dear Our Lady! I’ll say as many rosaries as you want!” And Lucia tells us that from that point onwards he often went apart to say the rosary by himself. In her last words to the children on this occasion she said: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.”

Mary also communicated an intense light from her hands to the children during this first apparition, a light which penetrated their hearts and souls, making them see themselves in God. Francisco later commented about this experience as follows: “I loved seeing the Angel, but I loved still more seeing Our Lady. What I loved most of all was to see Our Lord in that light from Our Lady which penetrated our hearts. I love God so much! But he is very sad because of so many sins! We must never commit any sins again.” On one occasion, Jacinta remarked to Lucia: “Look, do you know this? Our Lord is sad, because Our Lady told us not to offend Him any more, for He is already very much offended; yet nobody takes any notice, and they continue to commit the same sins!”

Francisco became a true contemplative, and, as Lucia tells us, like Jacinta he advanced greatly in spiritual terms in a very short time, displaying a wisdom well beyond his years. His whole focus was to do everything he could to console Our Lord and he had to remind the two girls on occasion that childish games and pastimes were no longer appropriate, especially as Our Lady had told him and Jacinta that they were destined to go to heaven shortly, whereas Lucia was told that her mission was to remain on earth and spread devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

On 13 May 1917 Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, while guarding their sheep in the Cova da Iria, witnessed an apparition of a lady dressed in white. The lady, later referred to as Our Lady of the Rosary, indicated that she was sent by God with a message of prayer, repentance and consecrations. She visited the children each month on the 13th day for 5 months. The last apparition occurred on 13 October and was witnessed by 70,000 pilgrims, who saw the Miracle of the Sun. In addition, Our Lady of Fátima sent a message that consisted of three secrets: first, a vision of Hell where the souls of the sinful would travel without prayer; the second, prophesied the beginning of the Second World War; and ultimately, the mysterious third secret, which was written down by Lúcia in 1944, and held by the Vatican, since 1957.

Jacinta died in 1919 and Francisco in 1920 from the Spanish flu Epidemic of 1918-1920. Lucia became a nun and, as Sister Lúcia, recounted three visits from an angel to her and her cousins. Between April and October in 1916 this angel invited them to pray and do penitence. The angel visited them twice in Loca do Cabeço and once by the well in Lúcia's garden. Sister Lucia died in 2005.

13 May 1981 - Assassination attempt on John Paul II in St Peter's Square
13 May 2000 - Beatification of Francisco & Jacinta Marto by JPII in Fatima.

Pope Paul VI was a pilgrim to Fatima in 1967. Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Portugal in 1982, for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, in 1991 (the 10th anniversary of the assassination attempt) and in 2000 for the beatification of the visionaries Francisco and Jacinta. Papa Benedict XVI came on pilgrimage to Portugal in 2010.

St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fatima
13 May 1982 - also in Italian & Portuguese

"1. "And from that moment the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19, 27).

The Gospel of today's liturgy at Fatima ends with these words. The disciple's name was John. It was he, John, the son of Zebedee, the apostle and evangelist, who heard the words of Christ
from the top of the Cross: "Behold your mother". First however Christ had said to his Mother: "Woman, behold your son".

This was a wonderful testament.

Leaving this world Christ gave to his Mother a man who was for her like a son: John. He entrusted him to her. And, as a consequence of this gift and of this entrustment, Mary became mother of John. The Mother of God became mother of man.

From that hour John "took her into his home" and became the earthly guardian of the Mother of his Master; it is indeed the right and duty of children to take care of their mother. Above all however John became by Christ's will the son of the Mother of God. And in John every man became her child.

2. The words "he took her to his own home" can be taken in the literal sense as referring to the place where he lived.

Mary's motherhood in our regard is manifested in a particular way in the places where she meets us: her dwelling places; places in which a special presence of the Mother is felt.

There are numerous such dwelling places. They are of all kinds: from a special corner in the home or little wayside shrines adorned with an image of the Mother of God, to chapels and churches built in her honour. However, in certain places; the Mother's presence is felt in a particularly vivid way. These places, sometimes radiate their light over a great distance and draw people from afar. Their radiance may ex tend over a diocese, a whole nation, or at times over several countries and even continents. These places. are the Marian sanctuaries or shrines.

In all these places that unique testament of the Crucified Lord is wonderfully actualized: in them man feels that he is entrusted and confided to Mary; he goes there in order) to be with her as with his Mother he opens his heart to her and speaks to her about everything: he "takes her to his own home", that is to say, he brings her into all his problems, which at times are difficult. His own problems and those of others. The problems of the family, of societies, of nations' and of the whole of humanity.

3. Is not this the case with the shrine at Lourdes, in France? Is not this the case with Jasna Gora, in Poland, my own country's shrine, which this year is celebrating its 600th anniversary?

There too, as in so many other shrines of Mary throughout the world, the words of today's liturgy seem to resound with a particularly authentic force: "You are the great pride of our nation" (Jdt 15:9), and also: "...when our nation was' brought low... you avenged our ruin, walking in the straight path before our God" (Jdt 13:20).

At Fatima these words resound; as one particular echo of the experiences not only of the Portuguese nation but also of so many other. countries and peoples on this earth: indeed, they echo the experience of modern mankind as a whole, the whole of the human family.

4. And so I come here today because on this very day last year, in Saint Peter's Square in Rome, the attempt on the Pope's life was made, in mysterious coincidence with the anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, which occurred on 13 May 1917.

I seemed to recognize in the coincidence of the dates a special call to come to this place. And so, today I am here. I have come in order to thank Divine Providence in this place which the Mother of God seems to have chosen in a particular way. Misericordiae Domini, quia non sumus consumpti (Through God's mercy we were spared-Lam 3:22), I repeat once more with the prophet.

I have come especially in order to confess here the glory of God himself: "Blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth', I say in the words of today's liturgy (Jdt 13:18).

And to the Creator of heaven and earth I also raise that special hymn of glory which is she herself, the Immaculate Mother of the Incarnate Word: "O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth... your hope will never de part from the hearts of men, as they remember the power of God. May; God grant this to be a perpetual honour to you "(Jdt 18:20).

At the basis of this song of praise, which the Church lifts up with joy here as in so many other places on the earth, is the incomparable choice of a daughter of the human race to be the Mother of God.

And therefore let God above all be praised: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May blessing and veneration be given to Mary, the model of the Church, as the "dwelling-place of the Most Holy Trinity".

5. From the time when Jesus, dying on the Cross, said to John: "Behold, your mother"; from the time when "the disciple took her to his own home", the mystery of the spiritual motherhood of Mary has been actualized boundlessly in history. Motherhood means caring for the life of the child. Since Mary is the mother of us all, her care for: the life of man is universal. The care of a mother embraces her child totally. Mary's motherhood has its beginning in her motherly care for Christ. In Christ, at the foot of the Cross, she accepted John, and in John she accepted all of us totally. Mary embraces us all with special solicitude in the Holy Spirit. For as we profess in our Creed, he is "the giver of life". It is he who gives the fullness of life, open towards eternity.

Mary's spiritual motherhood is therefore a sharing in the power of the Holy Spirit, of "the giver of life". It is the humble service of her who says of herself: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).

In the light of the mystery of Mary's spiritual motherhood, let us seek to understand the extraordinary message, which began on 13 May, 1917 to resound throughout the world from Fatima, continuing for five months until 13 October of the same year.

6. The Church has always taught and continues to proclaim that God's revelation was brought to completion in Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of that revelation, and that "no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord" (Dei Verbum, 4). The Church evaluates and judges private revelations by the criterion of conformity with that single public Revelation.

If the Church has accepted the message of Fatima, it is above all because that message contains a truth and a call whose basic content is the truth and the call of the Gospel itself.

"Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15): these are the first words that the Messiah addressed to humanity. The message of Fatima is, in its basic nucleus, a call to conversion and repentance, as in the Gospel. This call was uttered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it was thus addressed particularly to this present century. The Lady of the message seems to have read with special insight the "signs of the times", the signs of our time.

The call to repentance is a motherly one, and at the same time it is strong and decisive. The love that "rejoices in the truth" (cf. 1 Cor 13:) is capable of being clear-cut and firm. The call to repentance is linked, as always, with a call to prayer. In harmony with the tradition of many centuries, the Lady of the message indicates the Rosary, which can rightly be defined as "Mary's prayer": the prayer in which she feels particularly united with us. She herself prays with us. The rosary prayer embraces the problems of the Church, of the See of Saint Peter, the problems of the whole world. In it we also remember sinners, that they may be converted and saved, and the souls in Purgatory.

The words of the message were addressed to children aged from seven to ten. Children, like Bernadette of Lourdes, are particularly privileged in these apparitions of the Mother of God.

Hence the fact that also her language is simple, within the limits of their understanding. The children of Fatima became partners in dialogue with the Lady of the message and collaborators with her. One of them is still living.

7. When Jesus on the Cross said: "Woman, behold, your son" (Jn 19: 26), in a new way he opened his Mother's Heart, the Immaculate Heart, and revealed to it the new dimensions and extent of the love to which she was called in the Holy Spirit by the power of the sacrifice of the Cross.

In the words of Fatima we seem to find this dimension of motherly love, whose range covers the whole of man's path towards God; the path that leads through this world and that goes, through Purgatory, beyond this world. The solicitude of the Mother of the Saviour is solicitude for the work of salvation: the work of her Son. It is solicitude for the salvation, the eternal salvation, of all. Now that sixty-five years have passed since that 13 May 1917, it is difficult to fail to notice how the range of this salvific love of the Mother embraces, in a particular way, our century.

In the light of a mother's love we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima. The greatest obstacle to man's journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin, and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of the whole of man's earthly activity. The rejection of God on the part of man.

In reality, the eternal salvation of man is only in God. Man's rejection of God, if it becomes definitive, leads logically to God's rejection of man (cf. Mt 7:23; 10:33), to damnation.

Can the Mother who with all the force of the love that she fosters in the Holy Spirit desires everyone's salvation keep silence on what undermines the very bases of their salvation? No, she cannot.

And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.

The message is addressed to every human being. The love of the Saviour's Mother reaches every place touched by the work of salvation. Her care extends to every individual of our time, and to all the societies nations and peoples. Societies menaced by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation. The collapse of morality involves the collapse of societies.

8. On the Cross Christ said: "Woman, behold, your son!" With these words he opened in a new way his Mother's heart. A little later, the Roman soldier's spear pierced the side of the Crucified One.

That pierced heart became a sign of the redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, opened with the words "Woman, behold, your son!", is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier's spear. Mary's Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier's spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother's intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Saviour, bringing it back 'to the very source of its Redemption. Redemption is always greater than man's sin and the "sin of the world." The power of the Redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.

The Heart of the Mother is aware of this, more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.

And so she calls us.

She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.

9. Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to Him who is Holy, infinitely Holy; it means accepting her help by having recourse to her motherly Heart, which beneath the Cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world in order to offer the: world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to Him who is infinitely Holy. God's holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the Sacrifice of the Cross. "For their sake I consecrate myself", Jesus had said (Jn 17:19).

By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to Him who is infinitely Holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.

The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world, in this act of confiding by which the world, mankind as a whole, the nations, and each individual person are offered to the Eternal Father with the power of the Redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.

The Mother of the Redeemer calls us, invites us and helps us to unite ourselves to this consecration, to this entrustment of the world. Then in fact we will find ourselves as close as possible to the Heart of Christ pierced on the Cross.

10. The content of the appeal of the Lady of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the message imposes a commitment on her.

She has responded through the Servant of God Pius XII (whose episcopal ordination took place precisely on 13 May 1917): he consecrated the human race and especially the Peoples of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Was not that consecration his response to the evangelical eloquence of the call of Fatima?

In its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) the Second Vatican Council amply illustrated the reasons for the link between the Church and the world of today. Furthermore, its teaching on Mary's special place in the mystery of Christ and the Church bore mature fruit in Paul VI's action in calling Mary Mother of the Church and thus indicating more profoundly the nature of her union with the Church and of her care for the world, for mankind, for each human being, and for all the nations: what characterizes them is her motherhood.

This brought a further deepening of understanding of the meaning of the act of consecrating that the Church is celled upon to perform with the help of the Heart of Christ's Mother and ours.

11. Today John Paul II, successor of Peter, continuer of the work of Pius, John, and Paul, and particular heir of the Second Vatican Council, presents himself before the Mother of the Son of God in her Shrine at Fatima. In what way does he come?

He presents himself, reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima sixty-five years ago. Yes, he reads it again with trepidation in his heart, because he sees how many people and societies — how many Christians — have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima. Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of men.

But for this very reason the evangelical call to repentance and conversion, uttered in the Mother's message, remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was sixty-five years ago. It is still more urgent. And so it is to be the subject of next year's Synod of Bishops, which we are already preparing for.

The successor of Peter presents himself here also as a witness to the immensity of human suffering, a witness to the almost apocalyptic menaces looking over the nations and humanity as a whole.

He is trying to embrace these sufferings with his own weak human heart, as he places himself before the mystery of the Heart of the Mother, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In the name of these sufferings and with awareness of the evil that is spreading throughout the world and menacing the individual human being, the nations, and mankind as a whole, Peter's successor presents himself here with greater faith in the redemption of the world, in the saving Love that is always stronger, always more powerful than any evil.

My heart is oppressed when I see the sin of the world and the whole range of menaces gathering like a dark cloud over mankind, but it also rejoices with hope as I once more do what has been done by my Predecessors, when they consecrated the world to the Heart of the Mother, when they consecrated especially to that Heart those peoples which particularly need to be consecrated. Doing this means consecrating the world to Him who is infinite Holiness. This Holiness means redemption. It means a love more powerful than evil.

No "sin of the world" can ever overcome this Love.

Once more this act is being done. Mary's appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new "signs of the times". It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.

12. The author of the Apocalypse wrote: "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them'" (Apoc 21, 2-3).

The Church lives by such faith.

The People of God walks with such faith.

"The dwelling of God is with men" on earth even now.

In that dwelling is the Heart of the Bride and Mother, Mary, a Heart adorned with the jewel of her Immaculate Conception. The heart of the Bride and Mother which was opened beneath the Cross by the word of her Son to a great new love for man and the world. The Heart of the Bride and Mother which is aware of all the sufferings of individuals and societies on earth.

The People of God is a pilgrim along the ways of this world in an eschatological direction. It is making its pilgrimage towards the eternal Jerusalem, towards "the dwelling of God with men."

God will there "wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (cf Apoc 21, 4).

But at present "the former things are still in existence. They it is that constitute the temporal setting of our pilgrimage.

For that reason we look towards "him who sits upon the throne and says, 'Behold, I make all things new"' (cf. Apoc 21:5).

And together with the Evangelist and Apostle we try to see with the eyes of faith "the new heaven and the new earth"; for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away.

But "the first heaven and the first earth" still exist about us and within us. We cannot ignore it. But this enables us to recognize what an immense grace was granted to us human beings when, in the midst of our pilgrimage, there shone forth on the horizon of the faith of our times this "great portent, a woman" (cf. Apoc 12:1).

Yes, truly we can repeat: "O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth... walking in the straight path before our God.. .you have avenged our ruin".

Truly indeed, you are blessed.

Yes, here and throughout the Church, in the heart of each man and in the whole world: may you be blessed O Mary, our sweetest Mother."

Teresa, from the UK      
"I was in Fatima with my husband and we were sitting at the shrine and I had a sense that Our Lady was standing beside me; very powerful. And in fact I had felt very conscious that something would happen when we were making the journey to Fatima. And I believe she said to me "Teresa, pray the rosary and you will know me." Now, most of my life I've had tremendous difficulty in saying the rosary and I just felt this was a tremendous indication from Our Lady the significance of saying the rosary, how it can transform lives, and can actually bring a unity to the Catholic Church. If the rosary is said on a daily basis, we will certainly grow and Our Lady will protect us at all times."

Fatima: A Call to Spiritual Arms for the Salvation and Peace of the World
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's homily on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, 7th October 2017
when he consecrated the Archdiocese of San Francisco to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


"At this significant moment in world history, as we mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, understandably, much attention has been given to this supernatural phenomenon. I believe, though, that it is easy for us to get distracted by the sensational elements of this apparition: predictions of wars and disasters, a dancing sun, a vision of hell. We are easily intrigued with that part of the story, perhaps so much so that we miss the whole point of it, which, of course, is the message itself."

A Vision of Hell and the Last 100 Years

"The vision of hell is a well-known moment in the story of the Fatima apparitions: the three shepherd children saw souls tormented there with agony beyond description, a vision so horrible and gruesome that they shrieked out loud with fear. It was immediately after this vision that our Lady asked for the spreading of devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Now, there are some, I’m sure, who might want to dismiss all of this as fanciful; there are even some who deny the very existence of hell. But if we think about what has transpired over these last 100 years since the revelation of this message, coupled with our failure to heed it, does it not tell us that the century through which we have just passed was nothing other than an experience of hell?

To be sure, in many ways there has been great progress over the past century: one thinks immediately of improvements in technology that have increased ease and speed of communication, commerce and travel; progress in the treatment and alleviation of physical and mental illness; progress in civil rights. Yet, there have also been horrendous setbacks in other areas, and even in those very areas where progress had been made. If we think about the century we are now concluding, does it not show itself to be one that in so many ways has been a living reflection of hell, one that on so many fronts has roundly mocked God?

The examples are too numerous to list here, but many come to mind immediately, beginning with two great wars that enveloped the entire world in violence and bloodshed. There have been the death camps and the genocides – not genocide, but genosides – most notoriously, the one perpetrated against the people God first chose to be His own. Who would dare to say that such barbarity is not a mocking of God? It is a century that produced the most brutal regimes in world history, and all over the face of the earth. And then there is the persecution of the Church in every decade of this century and all over the world, and now the oppression and extermination of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere, whose pleas for protection and justice from the international community fall on deaf ears. But we do not have to look so far away in time and space. Still fresh in our minds and heavy on our hearts are victims of the atrocity in Las Vegas just a few days ago, which tragically is only the latest and most devastating mass shooting in a whole string of such senseless violence in our country for many years now. And then there is the attack on innocent human life: our own land has been soiled by the blood of innocent children in what has become a deadly epidemic tantamount to a genocide on life in the womb; and now we are increasingly witnessing the abandonment of our suffering brothers and sisters at the other end of life’s journey. And even in our own city of St. Francis, we see in our streets people suffering from the ravages of addiction and mental illness, as well as the celebration and even exaltation of the vulgar and the blasphemous, mocking God’s beautiful plan in how He created us, in our very bodies, for communion with one another and Himself. God is roundly mocked in our very streets, and it is met with approval and applause in our community – and yet, we remain silent.

What is happening to our world? In so many different ways, what was once unthinkable has become routine. The century since the Fatima apparitions now ending has mocked God, but God will not be mocked: not because He delights in wreaking vengeance on us, but because turning our backs on God only bounces back to us, leading to our own self-destruction.

Now, one might argue that all this has happened, not because people are more morally depraved in our time than in times past, but rather because modern means of perpetrating violence, destruction and moral depravity are much more sophisticated and massive now than in times past. This may well be true, but if so, it points all the more to our need to heed the message of Fatima in imploring God for mercy."

Our Advocate

"So we turn to our Lady, for at the root of all of this suffering and devastation is a spiritual disease, which, contrary to the physical and mental kind, has grown in our time and been largely left untreated. It is the disease that dethrones God and replaces Him with the “autonomous self,” making the self out to be God, creating one’s own reality for oneself. It is a disease that refuses to recognize God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as the ultimate truth and perfect icon of love.

So, yes, we turn to our Lady. Now, we don’t need Mary to point the way to Christ for us. We know where he is: he’s in the tabernacle, in the sacraments, in his word, he is present in the Church. Rather, what we need is someone to pick us up and carry us to him, because we are too weak to get there on our own. And so, as Mary had a special role in mothering God’s Son, so she has a special role in mothering us into life in her Son. This twofold ministry of the maternity of our Lady – in the life of her Son and in the life of his believers – was explained insightfully by Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter Mother of the Redeemer (n. 24):

… there is a unique correspondence between the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and the moment of the birth of the Church. The person who links these two moments is Mary: Mary at Nazareth and Mary in the Upper Room at Jerusalem… Thus she who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother becomes – by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit – present in the mystery of the Church. In the Church too she continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the Cross: ‘Woman, behold your son!’; ‘Behold, your mother.’

In her maternal presence, Mary is there to advocate for us. We see this in a subtle depiction in the image of our Lady of Fatima. At the bottom of her robe is a star. The star can be seen as a reference to Esther in the Old Testament, whose name means “star.” Esther is the one who pleaded with the Persian king to spare the life of her people, and at great risk to her own life. The king, who had taken her as his queen, was deceived into issuing a decree ordering a massacre of the Jewish people, and in order to ask him to spare her people she had to reveal to him her Jewish identity. By her pleading with the king she saved her people. Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, likewise does not cease to plead for us to our King, just as she did for the poor newly married couple at Cana. This is not because we would be treated harshly by her Son if we were to approach him directly. No; rather, we must recognize that God will deal with us in strict justice unless we ask for mercy. God wants us to ask for mercy, and He wants us to ask the Mother of His Son to help us, just as she helped that couple at Cana."

Heeding the Requests and the Next 100 Years

"For 100 years we ignored the message of Fatima; or, perhaps, it is not so much the message we ignored, for we are well aware of the warnings and the history that resulted. Rather, it is the requests we ignored. But we cannot afford to do so any longer. We have to pay attention. We have to do what she told the waiters at Cana: do whatever he tells you. And what does Christ tell us to do? He reveals this in the requests our Lady made at Fatima. It is now time to heed those requests. We might not have the power to change world history, but we can change what happens in our own families and communities if we heed the message. This next century can be radically different from the last one, but only if we heed the message and respond to the requests.

Which means that what we are doing today cannot be relegated to being simply a moving event and pleasant memory in the history of our Archdiocese. Far from being something we check off on a to-do list, what we are about today is nothing less than a call to arms: to spiritual arms. We are living in a time and place of intense spiritual battle, and only in taking up spiritual arms will we alleviate the spiritual disease that is at the root of so much of the physical and mental suffering in the world today. It is time to leave the sensational aside, and respond to the requests of our Lady at Fatima.

What did she ask us to do? It should come as no surprise, because it is the central part of her message wherever and whenever she appears: prayer, penance and adoration. And she was very clear at Fatima about the twofold purpose of this request: to save souls from hell, and to establish peace in the world. The message of Fatima was not only about the temporal order but, above all, the eternal order. In both orders, the stakes could not be higher: world peace and eternal salvation! I therefore call on all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to take to heart this threefold recipe for peace and salvation, as our Lady has asked us."

A Program of Action

"First of all, prayer: our Lady has asked us specifically to pray the Rosary daily. I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, if you are not doing so already, to pray the Rosary every day. And I ask all families to pray the Rosary together at least once a week. Appropriately enough, we celebrate this Mass of Consecration of our Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, a poignant reminder to us of the power of the Rosary to bring about peace and even to change the course of world history. It can certainly, then, change the course of history in our own families and communities.

Penance: most especially we must take up the spiritual arm of penance, for it is a powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal that we have woefully ignored for far too long. The reform of the discipline of penitential practice in the Church, far from denying the importance of it, was meant to instill a more mature spirit of appropriating this hallmark of Christian life in the life of the individual believer. In particular, Fridays are still days of penance, as they always have been in the Church, going back to apostolic times. The faithful, though, may now choose to do some other form of fasting in place of the traditional practice of abstaining from eating meat if such a penance would be for them a greater sacrifice. I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to dedicate Friday as a day of penance in honor of the day that our Lord died for us, selecting one concrete form of bodily fasting to observe on this day, whether that be abstaining from meat or another type of food or from some type of drink they normally enjoy, or omitting a meal altogether. Our penitential practices, too, are meant to lead us to have more serious and frequent recourse to the sacrament of Penance. There can be no spiritual revival, and especially a revival of Eucharistic devotion, without a renewal in our practice of the sacrament of Reconciliation. I call on all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to increase the sincerity and frequency with which they avail themselves of this sacrament, and, as a minimum, to confess their sins in the sacrament at least once a month.

Adoration: our Lady advocates for us, she picks us up, in order to bring us to her Son. All of our devotion, just as all of our penitential practices, must lead to adoration of God. The adoration our Lady asks for is meant to purify us of our inclinations to worship the false gods of contemporary society, and to give ourselves over to single-hearted worship of the one, true God. As Lucia said in reflecting back on her childhood experiences of receiving the revelations at Fatima: “… our adoration must be a hymn of perfect praise, because, even before we came into being, God was already loving us, and was moved by this love to give us our being.” Our consecration must therefore also bring about a renewal of our love for, and devotion to, our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament. I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to dedicate some time each week to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. If it is not possible during the week, take some time before or after Sunday Mass to pray on your knees before our Lord present in the tabernacle. At least some time every week praying before the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – will fulfill his desire that we ask him for mercy. And of course, our Lady also asked us to observe the devotion of the First Five Saturdays, precisely right after the children received the vision of hell, when she also asked for devotion to her Immaculate Heart. The devotion consists of attending Mass and receiving Communion in reparation for sins on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month shortly after or before going to Confession, and spending a quarter of an hour praying five decades of the Rosary. Again we see our Lady’s concern to assist us in attaining eternal salvation: the point of the devotion is to make reparation for sins, especially the sin of blasphemy. I ask all of our faithful to make the First Five Saturdays a priority in their devotional life by observing it once a year."

From Darkness to Light

"In the first reading for our Mass today, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the people who walked in darkness seeing a great light, the light that is the joy of God’s salvation. God came to the aid of His people by destroying the instruments of Assyrian oppression and sending them a king to free them. Praying the Rosary, bodily fasting, and adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament: these are the spiritual arms of God that will destroy the spiritual oppression that has marred the last 100 years of world history, and that will bring us God’s mercy, the mercy that is world peace and eternal salvation.

There is one more very important thing our Lady told the children after their vision of hell, not a request, but a promise: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Let us heed her message, let us grant her requests, in order to hasten that triumph, that triumph which is that of her Son over death, for she is inseparably linked to her Son, who came to win for us our eternal salvation. Her Immaculate Heart is the door that opens up for us entrance into that triumph. It is through that door that we walk from the darkness of sin and death to the light of Christ’s truth and mercy. There it is, on the other side of that door, a glorious, vast, light-filled paradise that is heaven. Her heart is the gate of heaven."


"And so, appropriately, we will conclude our prayer today, after Mass, Procession and the Act of Consecration, with Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Mary is always there to pick us up and carry us to her Son; she wants to take us through her maternal heart from the darkness in which we walk to the light of her Son, and her Son wants us to allow her to do so. Let us then do that, by obeying her request to do whatever he tells us. That is, let us grant her requests, so that we may always keep our eyes fixed on him, her Son, the Son of God and Savior of the world. And so let us conclude these reflections today by making our own the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, as cited by Pope St. John Paul II in his conclusion to his encyclical on the Eucharist, turning, as the saintly Pope exhorts us, “in hope to the contemplation of that goal to which our hearts aspire in their thirst for joy and peace”:

Come then, good Shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us, still keep us thine;
So we may see thy glories shine
in fields of immortality.

O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present food, our future rest,
Come, make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine, and comrades blest
With saints whose dwelling is with thee. [Amen.]"

Marta, from Portugal      

"I think my devotion to Our Lady of Fatima began when I was really young because my grandmother always had a little statue of her and here in Portugal everywhere we go we have little figures of Our Lady. I always had an interest and always thought 'Why does everyone love her so much and take such a great interest in her?' I have been to Fatima several times but one of the last times I went, I went in a pilgrimage and it took us five days to get there (and usually it just takes us two hours). So I went walking for five days and it was such a great relief and I was so full of friendship and happiness when I saw Our Lady and we prayed altogether. It was such a special moment and I got why people loved her so much."