|St. Jacinta and St. Francisco of Fatima|
May 13 to October 13 mark 100 years since Our Lady’s monthly appearances in Fatima, Portugal on the 13th day of each month to the three shepherd children in 1917. During the apparitions, Lucia was only 10 years old, Francisco 9, and Jacinta 7. On Saturday May 13, the anniversary of the first apparition of Mary, Pope Francis canonized Francisco and his sister Jacinta Marto, the first cousins of Lucia.
As Mary prophesized, two of the children died not long after the Miracle of the Sun on October 13. Francisco died in 1919 at the age of 11 and Jacinta died a year later on February 20, 1920, a month short of her 10th birthday. However, Lucy’s mission would continue in the words of Mary: “a little while longer”. Lucia died in in 2005 a few weeks before her 98th birthday.
This was the first time ever that any children other than martyrs were canonized as saints under the assumption that children did not have time to become holy. How did that happen? Was it simply because Mary appeared to them?
Only people of heroic virtue and unusual holiness are canonized as saints. How did these children achieve such a high degree of holiness? The Angel of Peace and Mary herself formed the children. After the apparitions, heroic virtue blossomed in them as they grew in holiness and suffered greatly to help save souls.
Diamonds in the Rough. The children were brought up in good Catholic homes and often prayed the rosary. However they only went through the motions, taking short cuts by repeating only the first two words of each prayer, “Our Father” followed by the two words “Hail Mary”, “Hail Mary”, “Hail Mary”, etc. then concluding the decade with only two words, “Glory be”. Historically, Mary tends to appear to innocent children to relay her messages to the world, but these children needed to first work on achieving holiness as we all must do in the quest for eternal happiness, which is what life on this earth is all about.
The children needed the Angel of Peace to prepare them during the spring and summer of 1916, for Mary’s messages the following year. The angel prepared them like our Lord prepares us through our parents, pastor, and teachers for that special mission He has for each one of us. Of course, we must take advantage of these God given resources.
The Angel of Peace appeared to the shepherd children three times and taught them in the middle of World War I that was raging since 1914. Secularism (widespread unbelief and rejection of God in the culture and public life) that began with the so called “enlightenment” was taking root and reaping its sad consequences. Thus God sent Mary, the mother of us all, to bring her sons and daughters back to God. The Fatima children were her messengers. Similarly, as St. Monica did, many a mother today is praying for her children to return to the faith. Mary continues in her mission to bring her children back to her son and will do so until the end of time. She uses us today to spread her message.
The angel taught them to increase their prayer life: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee. I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.” After repeating it two more times, the angel said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High!'
"Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. I am its guardian angel – the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and endure with submission whatever suffering the Lord sends you.” War is invariably a consequence of sin. Let us pray to the Guardian Angel of the United States for help. Portugal, by the way, avoided a bloody Civil War, a Communist takeover, and persecution as in neighboring Spain (50,000 martyrs 1936 - 39) and was not touched by World War II. During the time, thousands made walking pilgrimages from Lisbon to Fatima, appealing for Mary’s intercession against a threatened Communist takeover. Years later the Bishops of Portugal led a great national pilgrimage of thanksgiving.
The children learned to understand who God is; how much He loves us sinners and wishes to be loved; the value of sacrifice and how sacrifice offered up pleases God; and how He converts sinners because of it.
The Angel of Peace who taught and prepared the children.
In the third apparition the angel impressed upon them the importance of the Eucharist. He held a chalice in his left hand, while drops of blood fell into it from a sacred Host suspended over it. Leaving the chalice and the Host suspended in the air, the angel prostrated himself beside them and said the following prayer three times: "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly and offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the earth, in reparation for the insults, sacrileges, and indifference with which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg Thee for the conversion of poor sinners…….Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is horribly insulted by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”
Notice the similarity of the words in bold italics to one of the prayers within the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that Christ himself taught St. Faustina some 20 years later in Vilnius, Lithuania and Krakow, Poland shortly before the beginning of a second world war as Mary warned if the world did not repent.
Let us also remember that May 13 is also the 36th anniversary of the attempted assassination of St. Pope John Paul II in 1981. He attributed the miraculous zigzag trajectory of the bullet to go around a vital artery in his abdomen to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima. One of the bullets was placed in the crown of her statue in Fatima and once recovered the future saint paid a visit of thanksgiving on May 13, 1982 to the world famous shrine of Fatima, Portugal. That saintly Pope was so devoted to Mary that he had the words, “Totus tuus” on his coat of arms, meaning I am all yours, Mary.
Both Francisco and Jacinta were victims of the deadly 1918 influenza (flu) epidemic that swept Europe. Both lingered for many months, insisting on walking to church to make Eucharistic devotions and prostrating themselves to pray for hours. Neither feared death; in fact they ardently and happily looked forward to their entry into Heaven.
On her deathbed, Jacinta continued to teach Lucia and the world. In fact Mary appeared to her several times in and out of the hospital. “Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at His side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God entrusted it to her.”
A Few of Little Jacinta’s Gems of Wisdom. “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh…….Fashions will much offend Our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same……The sins of the world are very great…….If men knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives.”
“Our Lady said that the world is full of war and discords……Wars are the punishments for sin…….Our Lady cannot at present avert the justice of her Son from the world……..Penance is necessary. If people amend their lives, Our Lord will even yet save the world, but if not, punishment will come.”
“You must pray much for sinners and for priests and religious. Priests should concern themselves only with the things of the Church…….Priests must be very, very pure……Disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors displeases Our Lord very much…….Pray for rulers…….Heaven forgive those who persecute the Church of Christ…….If the Government would leave the Church in peace and give liberty to religion, it would have God’s blessing.”
“Fly from riches and luxury…….Love poverty and silence…….Have charity even for bad people…….Do not speak evil of people and fly from evil speakers……..Mortification and sacrifice please Our Lord very much……. Confession is a sacrament of mercy and we must confess with joy and trust. There can be no salvation without confession…….The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by a vow of chastity…….I would gladly go to a convent, but I would rather go to Heaven. To be a religious one must be very pure in body and mind…….To be pure in body means to be chaste and to be pure in mind means not to commit sins; not to look at what one should not see, not to steal or lie and always to speak the truth even if it is hard…….Doctors do not know how to cure people properly because they have not the love of God.”
Jacinta underwent surgery, which removed two ribs under only local anesthesia. Both Jacinta and Francisco endured the intense suffering with great resignation and trust in God. Furthermore, they took advantage of their suffering and offered it all up as a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. For more detail, go to americaneedsfatima.org.
In fact the not yet ten year old Jacinta, accepting it all in love, meekly said that her suffering would “help to convert many sinners”. That’s what made them saints! WE CAN DO THE SAME by imitating these children when sooner or later it comes our turn to suffer, whether it is cancer, heart disease, accident, or other ailment be it a short time or the rest of our lives. As in the Agony in the Garden, “Not my will, Father, but thy will be done” (Luke 22:42).