In less than a month, on October 13, to be exact, Marian devotees the world over will celebrate the centenary of the last of six apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children — Lucia dos Santos, 9 going on 10, and her Marto cousins Francisco, turning 9, and Jacintha, 6 to 7 — at the Cova da Iria in the rural parish of Fatima in Portugal in 1917.
A century ago last Wednesday, Our Lady told the children: “In October, I will perform a miracle, so that all will believe.” So, the following month, on the 13th, when all but one of the apparitions occurred, believers and non-believers alike thronged to the hilly area, massing in a crowd of 70,000 or so, to see if the promised wonder would happen.
It did. By many accounts, including two long articles by the editor of Portugal’s leading newspaper, the anti-Catholic O Seculo, the downpour of three days running suddenly stopped and the sky cleared.
Then the sun “danced,” as many amazed witnesses put it, before plunging to earth, terrifying not only the throng in Fatima, but countless others who witnessed the marvel quite a distance away in neighboring villages.
Finally, the sun returned to its usual place, and everyone found themselves, their clothes, and the ground beneath them completely dry, as if it never rained.
Sadly, despite that supernatural event, the most spectacular since the Resurrection, Our Lady of Fatima’s message was largely not heeded by a world that continued to forget God and disobey His commandments.
Four decades after Fatima, in December 1957, Sister Lucia, then a Carmelite nun, was the lone surviving visionary (Francisco and Jacintha died a few years after the apparitions). She said “the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to Her message, neither the good nor the bad.
“The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to Her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message.”
And a quarter-century later in 1982, Pope Saint John Paul II lamented: “The world has gone in the opposite direction than the one intended by Our Lady at Fatima.”
Listen to Our Lady
But despite the intransigence, Our Lady’s message must be told, if only to save even a few souls who listen, pray, repent, and make amends and reparations.
That’s the mission of the many Fatima talks being held throughout this year. This writer has given a number to parish communities, university classes and small groups. And on October 7 at the Lay Formation Center in San Carlos Seminary, he joins other speakers in the all-day forum, “Our Lady of Fatima Speaks.”
The forum covers not just the Fatima events and messages, but delves deeply and disturbingly into events of world history that affirm the warnings of Our Lady.
Prof. Edwin Pineda of the University of Asia and the Pacific will discuss how Russia spread its errors across the globe, as Mary warned would happen if the country was not consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, as she instructed the Pope to do, together with all the bishops of the world.
Our Blessed Mother also warned of chastisements, including grave trials for the Church. Apologist Carlos Palad will make a presentation on the attacks on the faith and the family, the two targets of the devil’s assault on Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.
Palad’s colleague in the apologetics group Defensores Fidei, Bro. Maril Llasos, will expound on Marian apologetics, using scripture and theology to defend Marian doctrines from detractors.
The final presentations cover Marian and Catholic prophecies, including divine chastisements, and the devotions that believers can embrace for the safety and salvation of their souls, their families, and even their enterprises, organizations, communities and countries.
The power of heaven over earth will be seen in historical events here in the Philippines and across the globe, as this writer has recounted in past columns.
And the divine pledge is reiterated: As it has been throughout Catholicism’s history, there will be tribulations for the faithful, but with prayer and devotion, they will share in God’s eventual triumph.
Starting at 8 a.m., the forum will include the praying of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, and will end with a 5 p.m. mass. It is free of charge, and those interested may ask registration forms from the Lay Formation Center of the Archdiocese of Manila (tel. 895-8855 loc. 300, 301, 302, 307 / 896-0607or www.facebook.com/jimjava65/, or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
This writer will also be speaking to mostly Filipino-American congregations in the Los Angeles areas, along with a foray to Davie, near Miami. We hope our Fil-Am sisters and brothers in Christ will, in turn, bring the Fatima message to their families and fellow faithful.
The LA talks schedule, all in September: Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, San Dimas (Sept. 19th, 8 p.m.); St. Joseph Retreat Center, Alhambra (21st and 28th, 7.30 p.m.); St. Frances de Chantal Catholic Church, North Hollywood (27th, 7 p.m.); Our Lady of Peace Church, North Hills (29th, 7 p.m.), and Blessed Sacrament Church, Sunset Boulevard (30th, 7.30 p.m.).
The Florida talk is on Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. in St. Bonaventure Parish Hall, Davie.
In all these events here and abroad, the goal is one and the same: bringing God’s message of mercy and conversion, as imparted by His Blessed Mother and the saints over the centuries, for the salvation of souls.
Two millennia ago, the Apostles and disciples of Jesus told the Roman world of His life, death and resurrection, to impart God’s invitation to become His children.
Today, we tell of Our Lady’s apparitions and the same invitation from our Father in heaven to a world no less unbelieving and wayward.
God help us. Amen.