On Sunday, May 13 1917, three children, Lucia and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, after going to Mass in the nearby parish of Fatima, took a small flock of sheep off into the country side to let them graze. This is what they did, for they were shepherds. They came from poor families. It was spring and the day was bright and sunny. They had their lunch prepared by their mothers and said the rosary together, as they were taught to do.
This year is the centenary of what happened to these three children. The eldest, Lucia, was just 10 years old.
As they were playing after lunch they were startled by a brilliant flash of light. They turned and saw a Lady. She was so beautiful that they were never really able to describe her in terms they believed expressed her radiance and glory. The Lady was young - no more than sixteen years old, and she appeared to be standing on the topmost fragile leaves of a small oak tree, looking down at them with tender interest.
The Lady said, "Please don't be afraid of me, I'm not going to harm you." Lucia asked, “Where are you from”. She replied, “I come from heaven”. Lucia then said, “What do you want of me?”
The Lady replied, "I want you to return here on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months, and at the very same hour. Later I shall tell you who I am, and what it is that I most desire."
She asked them: "Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?" They all said very willingly “yes we will”. By this time they were kneeling and they experienced a flood of light that seemed to penetrate their souls. Then the Lady said: "Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and an end to the war."
Then the Lady disappeared.
The Lady appeared six times to three shepherd children between May 13 and October 13, that year. The Lady revealed herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary and told them that she had been sent by God with a message for every man, woman and child. She promised that heaven would grant peace to all the world if her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were heard and obeyed.
Our Lady of Fatima explained to the children that war is a punishment for sin and warned that the world would suffer for its disobedience to His Will by means of war, hunger and the persecution of the Church. She said an extraordinary thing before Communism had risen up. She prophesied that Russia would be God's chosen "instrument of chastisement," spreading the "errors" of atheism and materialism across the earth, fomenting wars, annihilating nations and persecuting the faithful everywhere.
She said, "If My requests are not granted, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will suffer much and various nations will be annihilated." But she commented, “If my requests are granted.. there will be peace”.
Our Lady has asked for prayer, particularly the rosary, for acts of reparation and sacrifice. She asked the children to pray for the salvation of souls lest they go to hell.
The Lady that the children saw in Fatima was the same young woman who lived in a little rural village called Nazareth. She was a holy young woman who loved God with all her heart. And, like the children at Fatima, she was surprised by the sudden visit of an angel who said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid”.
The angel had a message, a wonderful message; she was to become the mother of the Son of God.
She was overcome but simply said, “be in done unto to me according to your will”. She believed, she trusted, she surrendered. And she became the Mother of God. She was the one who brought Jesus into the world.
Now in recent centuries Mary has been sent by her Son to call people back to faith and holiness. She is a mother who is deeply concerned about the world. People are abandoning God. People are not praying. People are sinning. They are no longer listening to her Son Jesus.
My dear students, Mary our Mother has spoken to children – to the three children at Fatima, to Bernadette at Lourdes, to children at Medjugorje. Let us listen to our Mother Mary. She wants us to learn how to love God with all our hearts. She wants us to come close to her Son. She wants us to lead good and holy lives. She wants us to pray often. She wants us to avoid sin. She wants us to pray for the world that it will not abandon God.
Dear Students, today at this Mass I invite you to speak to Our Lady and say that you will try to live out her message.
Let us all now pray the prayer to Our Lady and let us pray it will deep love and devotion:
Hail Mary ……………
Archbishop Julian Porteous
Monday, 20 March 2017