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1917 Fatima Apparition: When “last” is not “the end”

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Today we remember the “Miracle of the Sun” when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the last time to Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins canonized as Saints recently, Francisco and his sister Jacinta Marto, 104 years ago at Fatima, Portugal.

An estimated crowd of 70,000 made up of believers and unbelievers alike as well as skeptics and hecklers have witnessed the phenomenon, verifying its veracity with sworn accounts at how the Sun “danced” or zigzagged in the sky and then careened to the Earth while emitting radiant colors that lasted for about ten minutes.

It was the sixth and last apparition of the Blessed Mother to the three children that began on May 13, 1917.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin MaryFrom en.wikipedia.org.

And even though the Fatima feast is officially celebrated every May 13, many churches and devotees around the world have continued to celebrate the October 13 apparition not only due to the dancing Sun miracle but most of all because it was on this date when the Blessed Mother introduced herself as the Lady of the Rosary, telling the children how World War I would soon end, and that was when the Virgin Mother said “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”

In 1957 during her last interview while already a cloistered Carmelite nun, Sr. Lucia revealed how during that last apparition to them (her two cousins have died in 1919 and 1920 during the flu pandemic), the Blessed Virgin Mary looked very sad and never smiled to indicate the gravity and seriousness of her messages to them.

Amid the many interpretations of the events of October 13, 1917, Fatima has remained so popular and very significant to this day because of its truth and relevance to our own situation and experiences from the not-so-distant-past.

In the light of our readings today in relation with our being under the patronage Our Lady of Fatima as a University and a Medical Center, let me share with you two things for reflections.


First is to see the last apparition of October 13, 1917 not as the final one but the beginning of the unfolding of more revelations and realizations for us. In fact, Sr. Lucia continued to received private visions while in the convent as a nun in 1925 through the 1930’s.

One problem with the common perception of many people even up to now with the last apparition of Fatima is to equate it with the end of the world, of worldwide catastrophe that have instilled more of fear and even controversies that included doubts of the Vatican allegedly not fully revealing the Third Secret despite assurances from the visionary herself, Sr. Lucia who said before her death in 2005 that all Fatima Secrets have been fully revealed.

From the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

  
The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us 
but to inspire us to turn away from sins, 
to be converted and be holy 
so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

If we take the Fatima apparitions as a whole, we find in it more of messages of hope and joy for us in the world. The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us but to inspire us to turn away from sins, to be converted and be holy so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

The last things do not necessarily mean destruction but also signal new beginnings, new undertakings, new opportunities for us even in the midst of trials and difficulties like this pandemic. There is nothing we should be afraid of or worried with except that we be converted to lead holy lives.

The last apparition at Fatima in 1917 was meant to usher in new hopes for us to become better persons who build stronger families and more vibrant church communities.

Unfortunately, it is still far from being realized even 104 years ago have passed as we have not yet learned or have refused to heed its lessons. In that case, we and not God nor Jesus nor the Blessed Mother are to be blamed at why we are going through all these difficulties and miseries we are into in this modern age.


Let us make today the beginning of our conversion and transformation in Christ Jesus with the help of the Blessed Mother. It is in this aspect where we wish to propose our second reflection for 104th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima by confronting our true selves amid the many criticisms hurled against us by believers and unbelievers alike.

In our first reading today, we find St. Paul criticizing his fellow Jews who felt so entitled with God as his “chosen people”, reminding them that “there is no partiality with God” (v.11) in terms with his judgments that are based on the truth and on our deeds, not on our affiliations nor practices.

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Romans 2:5-8

How unfortunate that such feeling of entitlement continues to our own time among us in the Church, especially with those in the clergy and those who feel holier than others, giving more emphasis on things of the world that feed on the ego to gain some sense of importance or dignity, and relevance.

If Jesus were with us today, he would have surely addressed today’s woes in the gospel (Lk.11:42-46) to us for we have forgotten the more weightier things like proclaiming the gospel than politicking, being poor and simple than being rich and powerful so preoccupied with the ways of the world on the pretext of being modern or adapting to the present situation when in fact are seeking comfort and fame, of being served than serving others.

Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

At Fatima, the Blessed Mother had revealed to the three children at her last apparition how the devil has been working, infiltrating the church to mislead her priests and bishops into sins.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI admitted to reporters in May 2010 at Fatima, Portugal that the Third Secret “has permanent and ongoing significance… that could be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today as a result of the recent reports of sexual abuse involving the clergy.”

Like St. Paul in our first reading today, we are invited to examine our very selves – especially us priests and bishops – to face squarely the criticisms of many against us after years of hiding in authority and influence.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited by the Blessed Mother to be focused more in revealing God’s will as experienced and prayed in the the Sacred Scriptures than taking sides in politics and going down to the worldly debates of issues.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited to stop acting like judges who know all as if we are the favorites of God.

At the last apparition in Fatima 104 years ago, it is very interesting how two elements prevailed on that day: rains and the Sun.

The rains have soaked wet the people and the whole area for two days, October 12-13, signifying the call for inner cleansing and purification of our hearts and person.

And when the Sun “danced”, the people were astonished how their clothes where dried along with the whole surroundings as if it had not rained the previous day after witnessing the spectacular display of colors and light.

May we see more of the light of Jesus Christ in our lives so we may be cleansed and ready to work for another day of conversion and holiness. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.

Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.
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