- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
- PRAYER & DEVOTION
by Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité
According to Brother Michel of the Holy Trinity, the revelation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is "the secret of secrets" of the Fatima message. God wills that both our eternal happiness, and even our temporal well-being, be obtained through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the fulfillment of Her requests.
This is shown in a striking way by the Secret Our Lady revealed to the children on July 13, 1917. Our Lady told the - children that World War I would end soon, but that if men did not stop offending God, another worse one (World War II) would begin in the reign of Pius XI (1922-1939). Our Lady's purpose, of course, was not to frighten the children with a "prophecy of doom", but to give a remedy which would have averted the tragedy: "To prevent this, I will come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of each month."
Thus, if only Our Lady's requests regarding the First Saturday devotion and the Consecration of Russia had been fulfilled, the Second World War, and all the tragedies associated with it, could have been prevented. Even now, the terrible threat of a Third World War could be averted by keeping these requests. We have already spoken of the consecration of Russia in numerous articles. This article is devoted to the First Saturday devotion. At Fatima, Our Lady told Lucy that She would come back later to ask for the First Saturday devotion. She kept this promise, returning to Lucy on December 10, 1925. At the time, Lucy was a postulant with the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Pontevedra, Spain.
December 10, 1925: The Apparition of the Child Jesus and Our Lady
On the evening of Thursday, December 10, after supper, the young postulant Lucy — who was only eighteen years old — returned to her cell. There she was visited by Our Lady and the Child Jesus. Let us listen to her account:
"On December 10, 1925, the most Holy Virgin appeared to her,1 and by Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. The most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on her shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand. At the same time, the Child said:
'Have compassion on the Heart of your most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.'
Then the most Holy Virgin said: 'Look my daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.'"
What a touching scene, and yet so simple, described with the sobriety of the Gospel itself! What a charming dialogue, in which the Child Jesus and His Mother take turns speaking — He to plead Her cause, while She makes Her requests … to lead us back to Him.
As usual, the seer totally effaces herself here, not telling us a word about her own feelings. Is this not the surest mark of authenticity, which gives her account all its freshness? She is there to see, to listen, and to relate what happened, and nothing more.
And yet, what intimacy between the Blessed Virgin and Her messenger! Like St. Catherine Labouré, she received that day the privilege of being touched by Our Lady in a solemn and affectionate gesture, just as when a mother wants to give a child a confidential mission. The Blessed Virgin placed Her hand on Lucy's shoulder, giving her to contemplate Our Lady's most sorrowful Heart, and make it known to others.
Finally, the tone is the same as in the apparitions of 1917: what conciseness in the words of the great promise! It is the same conciseness that is found in the Secret of July 13, where a single word could not be suppressed without seriously damaging the sequence of thought. This too is a solid mark of authenticity.
The Transmission of the Message
How did Lucy go about making the requests of Heaven known? We know that immediately she told everything to her superior, Mother Magalhaes, who had been completely won over to the cause of Fatima and now had a sincere respect for the seer. She herself was ready to obey the requests of Heaven, but the confessor of the house, Don Lino Garcia, whom Lucy had also spoken with, remarked that she alone could do nothing. In the meantime, Lucy wrote a detailed account of the event for her confessor from Asilo de Vilar, Msgr. Pereira Lopes. Unfortunately this letter was lost, and we only know of its existence because it is referred to in a later letter. On December 29, Mother Magalhaes informed Bishop da Silva of what had happened, but without being very precise.
A Sorrowful Wait
At this point Lucy finally received the response of Msgr. Pereira Lopes. He expressed reservations, asked questions, and advised her to wait. A few days after, on February 15, Lucy answered him, giving him a detailed account of events. Fortunately, this extremely important letter has been preserved for us. This precious text we will follow step by step, adding our own subtitles and comments:
Most Reverend Father,
I would like to thank you very respectfully for the kind letter you have had the kindness to write to me.
When I received it and realized that I still could not fulfill the desires of the Blessed Virgin, I felt a little sad. But I realized right away that the Blessed Virgin desired that I obey you.
That put me at rest, and the following day, when I received Jesus in Communion, I read Him your letter and I said to Him: "O my Jesus! With Your grace, with prayer, mortification and confidence, I will do everything obedience permits me and You inspire me; the rest You must do Yourself."
I remained like that until February 15. Those days were a continued inner mortification for me. I wondered if it had been a dream but I knew it was not: I was certain that it was real! But still I asked myself how Our Lord could have deigned to appear again to me, who had responded so badly to the graces I had received!
The day I was supposed to go to confession was approaching, and I didn't have permission to say anything! I wanted to tell my Mother Superior. But during the day, my occupations would not permit me, and in the evening I suffered from headaches. Then, fearing to commit a fault against charity I thought: "This will be for tomorrow; I offer You this sacrifice, my dear Mother." One day after another went by this way, until today.
On the 15th, I was very busy with my work, and I was hardly thinking of that (the apparition of last December 10) at all. I was going to empty a garbage can outside the garden.
Here, by force of events, Lucy is obliged to speak about herself a little, and her rare confidences reveal to us something of her marvelous soul. Back months ago, she encountered a child. Immediately it occurs to her to talk to him about the Virgin Mary, to teach him to pray. Then she asked him to recite a Hail Mary … for the joy of hearing it. Since he would not say it all alone, she recites it with him three times, in honor of the ancient practice of the three Hail Marys in honor of Our Lady.
Since the child never seemed willing to recite the Hail Mary alone, our catechist, who did not want to lose this opportunity of fulfilling her mission of making Our Lady known and loved, suggested another idea: she invited him to visit St. Mary's Church every day. In fact, the basilica of St. Mary Major's is quite near the house of the Dorothean Sisters. Was it shortly before or after the apparition of the Child Jesus, on December 10? We do not know. In any case, the little postulant taught the child this beautiful and short prayer which was surely her own as well, her most frequent and fervent prayer of this Advent of 1925: "O my Mother in Heaven, give us Your Child Jesus." And she went away.
February 15, 1926: A New Apparition of the Child Jesus
Lucy's moving account continues:
So, on February 15, coming back as usual (to empty a garbage can outside the garden), I found a child there who seemed to be the same one as before, and I asked him: "Did you ask our Heavenly Mother for the Child Jesus?" The child turned to me and said: "And you, have you revealed to the world what the Heavenly Mother asked you?" And having said that, he turned into a resplendent child.
Then recognizing that it was Jesus, I said to Him:
"My Jesus! You know what my confessor said to me in the letter I read You. He said that this vision had to be repeated, there had to be facts permitting us to believe it, and that the Mother Superior alone could not spread this devotion."
"It is true that the Mother Superior alone can do nothing, but with My grace, she can do anything. It is enough that your confessor gives you permission, and that your superior announce this for it to be believed by the people, even if they do not know who it was revealed to."
"But my confessor said in his letter that this devotion already exists in the world, because many souls receive You every first Saturday of the month, in honor of Our Lady and the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary."
"It is true, My daughter, that many souls begin, but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised. The souls who make the five first Saturdays with fervor, and to make reparation to the Heart of Your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent."
"My Jesus! Many souls find it difficult to confess on Saturday. Will You allow a confession within eight days to be valid?"
"Yes. It can even be made later on, provided that the souls are in the state of grace when they receive Me on the first Saturday, and that they had the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary. "
'My Jesus! And those who forget to form this intention?"
"They can form it at the next confession, taking advantage of their first opportunity to go to confession."
And with that, Our Lord disappeared, leaving Sister Lucy to her humble chores. Once again He had used His messenger to reveal His great plan of mercy for the world. In return for such simple requests, Our Lord is promising a great era of peace and the salvation of many souls — if only men chose to listen.
In our next issue — The Great Promise and its conditions.
1. Out of humility Lucy refers to herself in the third person.