I am rereading Sister Lucia, Apostle of Mary’s Immaculate Heart written by Mark Fellows (contributor to the Fatima Center) and it is without doubt one of the best written publications on Fatima and the life of Lucia: the soul chosen by Our Lady to share Her message to mankind. Just this past First Saturday, as if moved by Mary Herself, I picked up the book and spent most of my day turning it’s powerful pages. It was more than providential that I reread, what I did, on none other than the First Saturday (devotion) of Our Lady- one of the key aspects of the Virgin’s message and urgent request beginning in 1917.
Even though I have read the description dozens of times on the Angel of Peace appearing to the children, it hit me in a new way that moved me to shed tears; the part where this humble Angel (proven to be Saint Michael the Archangel) is teaching the children to have their foreheads touching the ground while adoring their God. It was as though he was predicting that there would come a day where souls would forget how to pray properly or show the right reverence to Our Lord- especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This, we can be assured was exactly the Angel’s motive in teaching them genuine worship since in the last appearance to the children; they were given the Holy Eucharist to consume, by this celestial being’s hand. One of the prayers Saint Michael taught them was:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee; I ask pardon of those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.
Lucia described how after the departure of this glorious Prince of the Seraphim, she and her two cousins would say this prayer for hours at a time (no exaggeration) with their foreheads touching the ground (as they were taught); usually by the end of the day they were exhausted. In later apparitions with Our Lady, She asked the children before sending them sufferings: “are you willing to suffer for Our Lord, salvation of souls and for the Immaculate Heart?” The children always said yes, but what was striking were the amount of sufferings these youth endured. The bulk of their crosses sent from Heaven were the constant misunderstandings they faced from their own families, townspeople and even the priests in the beloved Catholic Church. It took Lucia’s own Mother – to admit- on her deathbed that she did finally believe her daughter was seeing the Virgin. In fact, Lucia was many times ostracized by her own parents, when prior to the apparitions she was the “darling” of the family.
Every time Lucia was found weeping over the constant rejection she faced, Francisco and Jacinta would console her by reminding her to offer the sorrow up for the souls being lost and the sins made against the Immaculate Heart. In fact, once they realized that all of this suffering was sent from Heaven to help Our Lady and console Our Lord “Who is already much offended” they were filled with instant peace. One of the most atrocious thorns in Lucia’s heart, which she bore most of her life, was the treatment she received by priests and even popes in regards to the message from the Queen of Heaven. Pope Paul VI said an explosive statement about the Fatima visionary:
A very simple girl! She is a peasant without complication. The people wanted to see her, I showed her to them.
Shortly before this, Lucia was trying to speak with Pope Paul privately, but he shunned her and by the time he announced her to the people of Portugal, before his public address to the citizens and pilgrims of Fatima, she was seen weeping. Poor Sister Lucia only wanted to urge him to reveal the Third Secret of Fatima, which Our Lady specifically asked to be revealed in 1960- it was then 1967. Lucia later wrote in her memoirs that she cared little for herself, she would rather remain silent and lead her life of solitary prayer as a Carmelite, but it was the Virgin who was being ignored and this grieved her. Popes such as John XXIII and Paul VI were known for thinking very little of the Fatima message and author Antonio Socci ( author of the Fourth Secret of Fatima) revealed in his book that these popes found it hard to believe that such a message could be given to three “unwashed” peasants.
Mark Fellows in the very first sentence of the Fatima book immediately expressed how “Heaven does not reason as man does” by stating:
It is a source of wonderment to some that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in as remote place as Fatima, Portugal and devoted Her attention to three unknown, illiterate Portuguese peasant children.
He later writes, for some (people of high ranking importance in society) these very facts in themselves are enough to cast doubt on the authenticity of the apparitions. I was compelled to write this today, because it truly is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: why God chooses whom He does. I believe many of those in particular, who hold a sort of “high” position of power- even in the Catholic Church hierarchy- are confused when God chooses the weak and infirmed to share His message. In reality, history has shown us that God never chooses the one the world would expect.
A priest once told me (in regards to the “call” to the religious life or the priesthood) that God calls the “least likely” candidate. The same holds true with whom Our Lady chooses to appear to. Power, when placed in the wrong hands, is a terrifying thing. When we reflect on people like Hitler, who was really only one man, yet his “power” influenced the whole world. Genocide and greed are always the result of those who are power hungry and want to rid society of God. Still, however, something even more terrifying is when Christ’s shepherds, His very own priests in the Church look down on those who are of “little importance” to the world’s eyes.
The lesson I learned on Mary’s First Saturday is, if you are a “nobody” to the world, you are certainly a “somebody” to Jesus and Mary. They are only looking for a sincere heart willing to love those Two Hearts. For some very mysterious reason Our Lord was born in a stable, “there was no room in the Inn” for God, Our Lady was thought merely a peasant- is that not Jesus, the Son of Mary? So, for the first time, in a long time, I thanked God for being no one of importance, because I remembered,
My Power is made perfect in infirmity. (2 Corin. 12:9)
The obvious trend in following Christ Crucified usually means we must be willing to lose everything, even our reputation for love of God. Lucia, who was once the light of her family, leader of her fellow youth and favored by her parish priest lost all of that when Our Lady chose her. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta reminded me of what happens to those who love Jesus and Mary, even though they appeared to have lost everything, they never lost God Himself. With Job we can say:
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)
If we only follow Our Lady’s example when we suffer much, by saying the prayer She taught:
Jesus, it is for love of Thee, conversion of sinners and as an act of reparation for all the sins made against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We will find that such prayer has actual influence and weight before the throne of God. We must pray for those in the Vatican and in Christ’s Catholic Church, those who hold an official office of power, that they may not shun “the little ones” by looking down on them, but ever embracing and leading them to the Father. True power lays in having a sincere and pure heart, and with the Angel of Peace, lowering ourselves so low before God’s Majesty that He is moved evermore to have mercy on the world – that presently – offends Him so! Such is the supernatural power of even one soul, or in this case- three peasant children- who only wanted to love and console their God and that Most Blessed Mother.