The power of prayer.
I have recently visited Fatima in Portugal. Among others I have been there at the 13th of October which was the day when the Sun Miracle was given 95 years ago which even the atheistic journalists wrote about because they were there and saw it..
Of course nobody is obliged to believe in private revelations, even if they are recognized by the Church as valid. According to the Church's teaching there will be no further revelation after Christ (CCC 66). We know, however, that there have been private revelations through the ages. «It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in en certain period of history». The apparition in Fatima is recognized as valid by the Church.
In this blogpost I will not go into details about the apparitions. Instead I will leave references for you to study if you find the topic interesting enough. Here I will look at similarities between then and now. Is the message of Our Lady of Fatima, also called Our Lady of the Rosary, still a message for our time? If you never have heard about the apparitions in Fatima, I'm sure you will be curious enough to find out the exact happenings of 1917! So here we go:
The apparitions in Fatima occurred 95 years ago. Have they anything to teach us today? Are they appropriate for our time in history? Many people think so! Why?
First we have to look at the time when the apparitions happened. What characterized the time around 1917? There was war. WWI had not ended. In Portugal where the apparitions happened there was political instability. In Russia we had the Russian Revolution. In February 1917 the Russian revolutionary started to to be violent and in the same year at November 17th (October 25th according to the Julian calendar) the first communist party started to rule in Russia. As we know religion became forbidden in Russia. Some years later we had the economical crack in America (1929).
In our time (2012) we also have dangerous forces of different kinds. Terror is a real threat. We have war several places in the world. People are murdered with cold blood. We have economical problems in the West (America and Europe). We have a growing population in the western world saying that they don't believe in God. Our time have to some degree some similarities with the time when Our lady appeared in 1917.
There are written lots of books about the apparitions and some movies are made too. I highly recommend those written by Sr. Lucia herself (the oldest seer). For the Norwegian speaking I recommend: Bjerke. P. B, Mirakelet i Fatima 1917 (...århundrets Mariaåpenbaring i lys av Bibelen...), 1998, Mazmillian Kolbe Utvivelser. I found the Norwegian book informative. I also felt that the book «Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope» by Andrew Apostoli and the films «The Call to Fatima», Film Director & Producer: Thomas McCormack, gave me a lot. For a quick updating on the happenings i 1917 here and now; go here:
So what was it that Our Lady of Fatima wanted in the turbulent times of 1917? She wanted people to pray more every day, especially the Rosary. She wanted the people to pray for sinners to repent and avoid hell. She wanted prayers for peace. If not there would come another war much worse than the one already ongoing. (The second world war came). She recommended penance. She also wanted people to partake in 6 successive first Saturdays. (First Saturdays are the first Saturday in every month: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Saturday_Devotions ). The first Saturdays were mentioned in a later revelation when the oldest of the seers had become a nun. Our Lady especially asked for the consecration of Russia (in her 1917 apparitions) to avoid Russia spreading her evil to the rest of the world (atheism I suppose). The final consecration was done very late, but it has been done (1984). After the consecration the Soviet Union fell apart.
No history book will tell us that a new war broke out because people didn't pray enough (WWII ...). May be that is a very important part of the message, that prayers might change the course of the history? We may feel that we are too few to pray for peace, since more and more people leave faith. Well, perhaps that's so in the Western world, but even so, I think that Our Lord will appreciate our prayers and our trust in Him. Because that is what it is about. It is about our understanding of the faith. It's about our way of practicing our faith. It's about if we are lukewarm or not. As it was said to the the church of Laodicea: «I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked» (Rev 3:15-17).
When we trust ourselves more than God, our attention to God will be weakened. To pray is to trust. To pray and to do penance for others are to show that we care about them. To pray the Rosary is to tell the LORD that we have understood that He gave his mother to us when He hang on the cross. It is to take Mary's «YES», when the angel came to her, very seriously. When we say yes to God we must do it wholehearted. That includes thinking about others, praying for them to have peace and to reach Heaven and avoid Hell (that there is a Hell is a catholic dogma. There is no use in trying to hide that part of the faith. Those who don't believe in God and don't live after His will have judged themselves into Hell. (It's a choice ...). They need our prayers before it comes so far and we ourselves need them. There might be may snares on the road to heaven, even for those that think they are strong in faith.
I agree with those who see the Message of Fatima just as actual today as it was 95 years ago. To visit Fatima is to be filled with peace and being grateful to God. When we visit it on the 13th in the months between May and October we will be at the same place where the miracle happened. We will stay in a crowd of people and remember. We will see the place where Our Lady of the Rosary occurred, and we will also remember the Miracle of the Sun that occurred at the 13h of October in 1917. Just as tight as we stand, so they stood 95 years ago (2012 now). They understood the message! Do we?
To walk at the roads in the village where the children lived gives an extra dimension to our lives. Their lives were so different from ours. They didn't have mobiles, electronic toys or electrical light. The grown ups had to work hard and so did some children too. Their help where necessary for the families to survive. Sometimes we need to remember that much of the luxury that is to find in the Western world of today are only distractions that might lead us away from God.
God bless you all for reading and reflecting!
The angel who appeared for the second time before the apparitions of Our Lady, and whom the children are kneeling in front of (the statues are at the actual place) at the well at the land of Lucia's (the oldest seer) parents, taught the children this prayer:
«+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! AMEN+»