Sixth Sunday of Easter - Fr. Pete Iorio
May 14, 2023 - 11:00 AM
Just one hundred six years ago yesterday, May 13, 1917, the world received a divine 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 and May is Mary’s month. She is the Mother of us all AND also because most importantly, we are Our Lady of Fatima Church and like all families, it is important to know our story.
Before the Blessed Mother appeared to the three children, an Angel of peace appeared in the spring of 1916. Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. The angel’s message was
Bring God to the center of your spiritual life in order to be able to adore him.
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.
The angel also showed particularly to Francisco the importance of living the Eucharistic life.
So around midday on May 13, 1917, 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.
This is the message that many of us learned which is: “offer it up.” It is the way in which we participate in the Paschal mystery. Our sufferings offered in love have a positive effect. We realize that we all suffer in different ways, physical, mental, emotional, when different people or news items irritate us, we offer it to God, and unite it to Christ. The effect is for God to decide how his grace will be manifested. It can be for the conversion of sinners as Mary told the children. “Offering it up” is not passive. We simultaneously offer our sufferings to God in a spiritual way while actively working for peace and justice and change. This message is also contained in the letter of Peter in our second reading today.
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
Our Lady of Fatima also asked them to pray the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to World War I.
Every month on the 13th day for the following 6 months, she appeared to them as promised. The children went through lots of trials because people did not believe them.
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 the 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 the suffering of the church. We are responsible. We are called to pray for the Church and for the conversion of sinners.
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. Even though immediate results may not be evident, let us persevere in prayer. Prayer is never useless. In God’s time, it will bear fruit. And also: Do not be afraid because we are in the loving embrace of our Blessed Mother.