One hundred years ago Mary was sent on
mission from Heaven as "Ambassador" of God's will--Ambassador of God's
Heart--to a secluded town in Portugal. There, she formed three little children
in a global mission of intercession. In this hidden, "deserted" place, Mary
schooled Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in prayer of the heart. In the Gospel of
St. Matthew in the scene of the story of the multiplication of the loaves and
fish, the disciples say to Jesus, "This is a deserted place" (see Mt.
14:15).God delights in performing
miracles in deserted, out of the way places. Many people are familiar with the
miracle of the sun that occurred on October 13, 1917 in Fatima. Yet, is it not
spectacular also the extent to which three young lives were transformed in such
a short time.
Since the time ofher Assumption into Heaven, Mary has
beensent by God on mission at times
when the world forgets. Sin is a forgetfulness--a forgetfulness of God and
of who we truly are--a forgetfulness of our own dignity and identity. Sin
is a spiritual blindness and deafness. On the other hand, holiness is a
constant remembering of the God Who is, and a remembering of who we truly are.
Holiness is our true vocation. When we celebrate the "Holy" Eucharist, we
gather to remember the greatest act of love that the world has ever known, and
to "Do this in memory of me". In 1917, the world was in the throes of
World War One--the unfortunate fruit of vast forgetfulness!
Before Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta
were "touched by an angel" in 1916, they were like many other children of their
age. They were immature and tended to "say" the rosary only with their lips
rather than from their hearts. They had not yet discovered the "mysteries" of the
rosary in their hearts; nor had they encountered the mystery of Jesus in their
young lives. The three little shepherd children would often 'cut corners' and
only say the two words,"Hail Mary" ten times quickly as a decade, moving
speedily so that they could return to what they enjoyed: Playing games. With
the appearance of the "angel of peace" to them in 1916, the children were
brought into a new realm of God's vision and God's values. The three were being
prepared to make a passover from "games to God". Through Mary's teaching and
guidance, their prayer would change from "cutting corners" to "cutting
The event of Mary's appearances to the
three shepherd children at Fatima (May 13-Oct. 13, 1917) one hundred years ago
really was a "school of prayer": A school of training in informed,
intercessory prayer. For example, they were told by Mary for whom and for
what to pray for (the end of World War One, and for the conversion of sinners),
and how to pray (pray the rosary). The children received revelation from Mary.
Then, they knew how to direct their prayer. This is a type of informed
intercessory prayer. The event of Fatima might also be called a "school of
transformation". Mary transformed these three small children into "Fatima
freedom fighters"--global prayer warriors who were asked to pray for the end of
a world war, and to pray for the salvation of souls in the world.
Mary formed Lucia, Francisco and
Jacinta in the pattern of her own heart. Their lives became a living prayer and
even a type of "martyrdom of love". Mary formed them in her fiat: "I am the
servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke
1:38). This is the "Yes" that she had lived from the moment of the
Annunciation, throughout the remainder of her life on earth and now lives in
heaven. The children were formed by her in the same inner disposition: To
desire God's will above all else in their lives and in the lives of those whom
they prayed for. Mary formed the children in her own faith and her yes to
The fruits of transformation were
astounding in the lives of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. Eachmade Mary's will their own. Each made her
heart their own--her heart which is the home of the eternal word and the sanctuary
of the Holy Spirit. The three became children of transformed desires: They
desired to please Mary in everything; they desired to console the Heart of
Jesus and Mary; they desired to convert and save sinners; and they burned with
desire to pray the rosary throughout the day. Newly imbued with the mystery of
God, the children became budding mystics. "Formed in the Heart of Mary",
their hearts began to reflect more the mature Heart of Jesus. Their desire
to make sacrifices, to supplicate, fast, and offer reparation grew: "Offer your
bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship"
We might even say that, in a sense,
the three shepherd children became "a small, contemplative, communal,
intercessory prayer community" led and empowered by Mary and the Holy Spirit.
Mary formed them as "victim lambs". Even as Francisco and Jacinta were dying of
fatal diseases, each offered their sufferings with "willful maturity" for
others. Truly with St. Paul each of them could say:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for
your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions
of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church" (Col. 1:24).
brought forth in these three young lives she desires for each of us as well.
Mary is key in the formation and ongoing growth of communal, contemplative,
intercessory prayer communities.
aspects of my life can I identify as needing more healing and/or purification
for a greater growth in holiness to occur?
my zeal to pray for souls growing or waning?
Any scripture from the text; Is. 56:7B; Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Pet.
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