"And nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting." (St. Matthew, 17: 20)On this day, October 13, 98 years ago, occurred the great "Miracle of the Sun", in the village of Fatima, Portugal. Let us recall the story leading up to this great prodigy.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared six times to three little shepherd children, Jacinta, seven years old; Francisco, nine; and Lucia, who was the oldest at ten. Our Lady told them that God wanted to establish throughout the world devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. She said that men must stop offending Her Divine Son, and that they should pray the Rosary in order to end the war (World War One) which was then raging. This apparition took place at noon on May 13, 1917. Our Blessed Lady asked Her young friends to come back to the same place on the 13th of each month for the next six months.
Despite opposition from parents and town authorities, the children came back each month except for August (they were held in jail by the mayor, who had threatened them with death unless they told him the Secret.) Mary told them to recite the Rosary every day and spend some time thinking about the Mysteries, instead of just mumbling prayers. She asked that people go to Confession and Communion on the First Saturday of five consecutive months. If this was done, Mary promised to help at the hour of death with the graces needed for salvation.
Our Blessed Lady also uttered a solemn warning that, if Her requests were not heeded, another terrible war would break out, different nations would be destroyed, famine and persecution would reign, many would be martyred, and the Holy Father would suffer much.
On the other hand, if the faithful heeded Her warnings and mended their lives and were devoted to Her Immaculate Heart, even Russia would be converted and there would be world peace.
So, on that October 13 of 1917, about 70,000 people gathered, in the heavy rain, at the spot where Mary appeared to the children. In honor of His Blessed Mother God worked a stupendous miracle, the so-called Miracle of the Sun. As the tremendous crowd starred at the sky, the sun changed color from gold to silver. It sent in every direction rays of different colored lights. Three times for four minutes each time the sun moved around like a wheel of fire and then to the consternation of everyone, plunged towards the earth, coming so close that many thought the end of the world was at hand. When the sun went back to its place, everyone realized that the rain had stopped and everything was miraculously dry, the earth and the people, as if their clothes had been to the dry cleaners.
In the sky the children saw Our Lady with St. Joseph and the Divine Infant, who later blessed the crowd. Finally Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, She then said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary."
"People must amend their lives, ask pardon for their sins and not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended."
What is the meaning of the Fatima story for you and me? Clearly, Our Lady of Fatima has brought an on-going message for the world, a message that has four main points:
1. We should turn away from sin. We should make many sacrifices by fulfilling our duties of our state in life.
2. Consecrate ourselves without reserve to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and live that consecration.
3. Recite the Rosary every day, adding after each decade: "O, my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."
4. Keep the five First Saturdays devotion by receiving the sacraments (Confession and Holy Communion), by reciting five decades of the Rosary, by meditating fifteen minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary, and by praying for the Holy Father, offering all this in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Lady asks of us two things in particular: prayer and penance. The devils of destruction are everywhere in the world today, driving nations into war, even fratricide, destroying peace in the hearts of individuals and in the council chamber of nations. Only prayer and penance can win peace. Listen to the call of Our Lady of Fatima. Mary said: "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph and there will be an Era of Peace!" Let's tell Our Lady that we will heed Her warnings and follow Her advise so that Christ, Her Divine Son, will reign in the hearts of all mankind! Amen.