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.
On May 13, 1917, three young children received an apparition of Our Lady near Fatima, Portugal. She urged the children to pray the Rosary for an end to World War I. She also urged them to pray for sinners and the conversion of Russia, which slipped into a revolution, bringing the rise of a communist government. For six months, Mary visited these children on the 13th of each month, entrusting them with three secrets and a request to the Holy Father: to consecrate Russia in union with the bishops of the world to her Immaculate Heart.
On July 22, the Church commemorated the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. On the surface, most Catholics might not be certain why this is newsworthy at all.
Before the Vatican announced in June the change to a feast day, Mary Magdalene's day was celebrated as a memorial, the rank of most saint days in the Church. Feasts are reserved for special events in the life of the Lord (the Transfiguration, for example) or for important saints in the early Church, such as St. Stephen, the first martyr. With an exception for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the apostles also have feast days.
As we consider this question, I would like to examine it as we did with the life of St. Joseph: That is, limiting to details contained in the Bible and other places that are objectively verifiable. For greater detail as to how these events unfolded, I heartily encourage reading an account as recounted by one of the mystics approved by the Church.
It is important for us to mourn those who have died in an appropriate way. What this means changes from person to person and family to family. Fortunately, there are many ways a Catholic priest or deacon can be present with a family in the hours after death through the funeral rites of the Church.
The life of St. Joseph is largely veiled to us by history. While there are some writings from the early centuries of the Church about St. Joseph, they are part of the apocryphal literature. Writings in this category are largely viewed with suspicion, as they were written more to convey hidden, secret knowledge that was believed to be needed to attain salvation, rather than to give an account of events that took place. We also have the writings of mystics such as Anne Catherine Emmerich and the Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda, which pass along vivid details of St.