DEAR FATHER | Mary’s message at Fatima remains relevant 100 years later

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Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to three young children at Fatima, Portugal. While 100 years is a long time, the significance of an event shouldn't be judged solely on the time since it occurred. Indeed, the core message of Our Lady of Fatima is still fresh and relevant today.

At Fatima, Mary diagnosed the problems in the world as arising from sin. In 1917, the effects of sin were seen in the cruel weapons of war humans unleashed on each other on the battlefields of the Great War, now known as World War I. Today, sin injures our unity as a nation through the tension between races spilling over as violence on the streets of our cities. Sin also is at the root of distrust between nations and the threat of terrorism. In the face of such sin, Mary encouraged us to repent. The issues that the three young children of Fatima faced were global, just as are the issues we face today.

But when we commit to change our heart, it has the effect of beginning to change the heart of a nation and of the world, away from sin and toward the will of God.

Some readily embrace this message of Our Lady. For others, it takes time. In these cases, the message of Fatima encourages us to make small sacrifices to change their hearts. When we remain patient and act calmly when we're wronged, give up something small, or spend extra time in prayer, we reach people's hearts. If we offer these sacrifices for them, God will move their hearts toward Him.

At Fatima, Mary encouraged us to pray the Rosary. This prayer focuses us on the mysteries of Christ's and Mary's lives. The Rosary helps us reflect on these scenes and to draw from them spiritual insights and hope that Jesus will redeem and save us.

Our Lady of Fatima also encouraged the children to frequently receive the sacraments. Some people have heard of the practice of receiving Holy Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month to make reparations for sinners. If this isn't possible, perhaps make the resolution that each Sunday, you will attend Mass, even when it's inconvenient. By entering into a deeper communion with the Lord, you will bring great delight to Jesus' heart.

Even though 100 years have passed since Mary appeared at Fatima, her message remains quite relevant today.

Father Mayo is pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton. 

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