The children of Fatima, Sister Lucia, and her cousins, Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta, the little cousins, both soon to be declared saints in the Catholic Church, offer us a compelling message for this day and age.
This message is spelled out by Jesus in Matthew 18:1-5 At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
In our busy, self-indulgent culture, will we take the time to listen and receive the message of the children of Fatima? What is their message to us? I believe in my motherly and grandmotherly heart, the children teach us to have sacrificial love for others. Their courage in the face of death, their humility in their obedience to Our Lady, their willingness to suffer to help save souls, all point to a serenity, peace and acceptance this world cannot offer. They took seriously the roles Our Lady asked of them, each in their own way.
For Francisco, he took to heart Our Lady’s words that God was much offended, and he wanted in his own heart to console God through many rosaries which Our Lady had asked of him. In October of 1918, Francisco became gravely ill. He no longer had the strength to pray the rosary, and begged his father to receive his first holy communion. His first and last communion was given in the tiny room where he lay dying. Two days later, nearing his end, he exclaimed, “Look mamma, look, a light so beautiful, there near the door.” Towards 10 o’clock in the evening on April 4th, 1919, after asking that all his offences be pardoned, he died calmly, without any sign of suffering, without agony, his face shining with an angelic light. Sister Lucia describes his death in her memoirs, “He flew away to heaven in the arms of our Heavenly Mother.”
Jacinta was the youngest of the children. After the vision of hell shown to the children, Jacinta decided to offer herself completely for the salvation of souls. To free souls from the fires of hell, in the heat of the summer, she gave up drinking water.
Blessed Jacinta speaks,”If only I could place in the heart of everyone the fire which I have in my heart which makes me love the Heart of Mary so much!”
A year following the apparitions, an illness began which would carry her to death. With an abscess on her lung, from her hospital bed, she declared cheerfully that her sickness was just another opportunity to suffer for the conversion of sinners. Over the course of the next year she suffered with tuberculosis, and in February of 1920, she was rushed to another hospital in Lisbon, without her parents. She asked to have an empty chair placed beside her bed for Our Lady. In the Lisbon hospital she was visited no less than three times by the Mother of God. Finally, on the night of February 20th, 1920 the promise of the “Lady more brilliant than the sun” was accomplished. “I have come to take you with Me to Paradise.” Like Francisco, Jacinta now lies buried in the great Basilica of Our Lady in Fatima.
Sister Lucia was the oldest of the children. From her infancy she was recognized as being especially precocious, and was open and cheerful. Her sufferings began almost immediately after the first apparition, and she became the target of criticism from her family and friends. Another great moment of suffering for Lucia came when Our Lady told her she would soon take Francisco and Jacinta to heaven and told her that she was to remain on earth, to spread the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Virgin comforted her with the words,
“ My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God.”
It was Sr. Lucia who spoke to the Queen of Heaven, and asked her for favors requested by many people. She asked Our Lady for a miracle so that all would believe in the apparitions. This “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by 70,000 people occurred during the last apparition on October 13th 1917.
After a visit to Fatima, Portugal, in 1997, I wanted to become Mary’s child. After returning home, I consecrated myself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Lord gave me the song, “I Am Yours” It is dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.
I am Yours, my Mother, take me as Your own
Wrap me in Your mantle, shield me from the storm
Use me as a vessel, to serve Your only Son,
I am Yours, ooh, I am Yours, ooh…
Make my life and offering
A sweet perfume of praise.
Just as You, carried Him…
Help me take Your Son, to all men!
Your life was filled with sacrifice
Swords of pain, pierced Your Heart
When I’m tempted, When all feels lost…
Press me close to Your Son’s cross
I am Yours, my Mother, take me as Your own,
Wrap me in Your mantle, shield me from the storm,
Use me as a vessel, to serve Your only Son,
I am Yours, ooh, I am Yours, ooh… I am Yours….
This song and other songs for Annie’s can be found on her website, www.anniekarto.com