Fifth Sunday of Easter

Our Blessed Mother who appeared at Fatima 100 years ago

Recently at a meeting of diocesan priests, we were speaking about a common mission. We spoke about making all of our parishes a school of formation for saints. Consider yourself a future saint.
Sometimes, in the same week because of the cycle of daily Mass and Sunday Mass readings, we hear the same reading. Believe it or not, this same Gospel was the reading for Mass on Friday. I asked the 6th grade from St. Mary’s School what they thought Jesus meant: in my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places and I am going to prepare a place for you.
A student responded that Jesus is talking about heaven. I agree. He who is the way the truth and the life and died on the cross and rose to new life told the disciples before He died that He was showing them the way to follow. Jesus gives us the promise to each and every one of us that after we die, we will rise and enjoy the gift of heaven. What a great message and promise of hope. That was over 2000 years ago.
Just one hundred years ago today/yesterday, May 13, 1917, the world received the message of hope again, not from Jesus Christ but directly from His Mother Mary. I share with you this story because it is Mother’s Day weekend and May is Mary’s month. She is the Mother of us all AND also because we are St. Mary’s church and have a connection to Fatima in different ways. On our grounds in the grotto is a depiction of the vision of Our Lady of Fatima 3 children 7, 9 and10 years old had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God while they were tending sheep. Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia.
Before the Blessed Mother appeared to the three children, an Angel of peace appeared in spring of 1916. Playing and praying. Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace.
1. Bring God to the center of your spiritual life in order to be able to adore him.
2. Believe deeply that the hearts of Jesus and Mary always listen to our prayers even if they do not always answer. Trust that they pay attention to us.
3. The angel also showed particularly to Francisco the importance of living the Eucharistic life.
But around midday on May 13, a lady dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light, appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. The children were so near that they were in the light that encircled her, or which she radiated, perhaps 4-5 feet away.
Messengers from heaven often begin with an exhortation as she did: Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.
Lucia responded for all three, as she would throughout the apparitions.
“Where are you from?”
I come from heaven.
And Lucia asked if they would go to heaven and if people she knew by name were in heaven. The lady answered truthfully, indicating that some were in heaven and some were in purgatory.
Mary asked if the children would offer themselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends in atonement for all the sins that offend Him and for the conversion of sinners.
They agreed that they certainly would. She indicated that they would indeed suffer but the grace of God will be with them and will strengthen them.
She also asked them to Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.
Every month on the 13th day for the following 6 months, she appeared to them as promised. They went through lots of trials because people did not believe them. Wouldn’t you be skeptical and demand proof?
When she appeared on July 13, she shared a secret in 3 parts which are now all revealed. She showed them hell, war, and the suffering of church. It is to save souls from hell that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
All these things are present in our lives: salvation – our choice for God or not the suffering of good and evil in the world with war; and suffering of the church. We are responsible. We are called to pray for the Church and for the conversion of sinners.
On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square. He attributed his strong devotion to Mary as protecting him from death. He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary shortly thereafter. Later he would visit Fatima and place the bullet that was meant to take his life into the crown of Our Blessed Mother’s statue.
So here is another connection to Our Lady of Fatima for us. St. John Paul II established our Diocese of Knoxville on September 8, 1988, the feast of the birthday of Mary. Our current bishop, Richard Stika named Mary and St. John Paul II as patrons of our diocese.
So it is with great devotion on Mother’s Day weekend on this 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima that I highlight this story.
Also today, Pope Francis canonized or declared the brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta to be saints. They who were around the ages of our first communicants led holy lives. Sadly these children died just two years after the apparitions from a flu outbreak in 1919. Jacinta and Francisco said that they would devote their lives to God and offer their sufferings for souls. If they can do it, so can we.
The message of Fatima is still very important for us today. In the midst of great concern and uncertainty about the future, what does Fatima ask of us? Perseverance in the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shown daily by the recitation of the Rosary. And what if, despite our prayers, wars continue as they most certainly do? Even though immediate results may not be evident, let us persevere in prayer. Prayer is never useless. Sooner or later, it will bear fruit. And also,
Do not be afraid because we are in the loving embrace of our blessed Mother.

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