On the 13th of October 2007 we have celebrated the 90th anniversary of the last apparition of Mary as to the three children in Fatima. It was this occasion that the famous miracle of the sun was witnessed by the crowd convened to Cova da Iria - the place of the apparitions – as a sign to confirm the authenticity and importance of the message brought by Mary to all of us. [1]

The series of apparitions of Our Lady took place in the middle of the ravaging World War I in a hidden little village of Portugal to little shepherd children. The message that Mary gave to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco was first of all a message of hope and of warning in the same time. The central theme of hope is a call for repentance and prayer to stop the horrendous evils of war and bring peace to the suffering peoples of the world. The warning is that without heeding to this call, there is no way to stop the escalation of violence.

At the first of the six apparitions on May 13th Mary said “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” She repeated the same call for prayer on July the 13th : “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.” Mary offers the simple means of praying the Rosary (which is in fact a prayer centered on Jesus) as powerful and only means capable to end the war and bring peace. This message is as valid now after ninety years as ever, when there is so much suffering in our modern world from war, oppression injustice and violence and we need to answer to it with our commitment to prayer. “The Lady of the message seems to read the signs of the times - the signs of our time - with special insight... The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness” [2].

The apparitions on July 13th 1917 brought the so-called “secret” of Fatima (consisting of three parts), prophetic visions and warning about the consequences of sin and lack of conversion – and a request of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The contents and theological explanation of this prophetic dimension of the apparitions is published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in connection with the third part of it with the title “The Message of Fatima” [3] . This document also describes the consecration of the world by John Paul II in the following way:

“As is well known, Pope John Paul II immediately thought of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he himself composed a prayer for what he called an “Act of Entrustment”, which was to be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on 7 June 1981, the Solemnity of Pentecost… The following is the part which refers specifically to the Act of Entrustment:

“Mother of all individuals and peoples, you know all their sufferings and hopes. In your motherly heart you feel all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, that convulse the world: accept the plea which we make in the Holy Spirit directly to your heart, and embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord those who most await this embrace, and also those whose act of entrustment you too await in a particular way. Take under your motherly protection the whole human family, which with affectionate love we entrust to you, O Mother. May there dawn for everyone the time of peace and freedom, the time of truth, of justice and of hope” .[4]

On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world, who had been “convoked” beforehand, repeatedly entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

“O Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples.

In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.

‘We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God!’  Despise not our petitions in our necessities”.

The Pope then continued more forcefully and with more specific references, as though commenting on the Message of Fatima in its sorrowful fulfillment:

“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of himself to the Father: ‘For their sake’, he said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19). We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this his consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, peoples and nations. It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken, and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history.

How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church.

The present Year of the Redemption shows this: the special Jubilee of the whole Church.

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call!

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!

Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love! Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart.

 

The prayer John Paul II uttered on this occasion ended with litany-type of invocations:

“Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!

From famine and war, deliver us.

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”. [5]

These invocations in our opinion are especially adapt to end prayers said for peace – for example ending the Rosary with it - and can be included in our daily practice of prayer.

We desire and ask God that the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the miracle of Fatima would increase the faith and hope of all Christians to end the wars with the help of conversion, repentance and prayer and to intercede efficaciously to stop the evils menacing our societies as Our Lady warns us to do also today.



[1] The official web site of the Sanctuary of Fatima is http://www.santuario-fatima.pt/portal/index.php?lang=EN There is a good presentation of the events of at this web site “Fatima a Grace to Mankind” http://www.ewtn.com/fatima/

[2] Pope John Paul II, Message for the 1997 World Day of the Sick, N. 1, Insegnamenti, vol XIX/2, 1996, p. 561. (italics by us)

[3] http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html

[4] Radio message during the Ceremony of Veneration, Thanksgiving and Entrustment to the Virgin Mary Theotokos in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IV, 1 (Vatican City, 1981), 1246. (italics by us)

[5] On the Jubilee Day for Families, the Pope entrusted individuals and nations to Our Lady: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 1 (Vatican City, 1984), 775-777. (italics by us)