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A message from the bishop

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to three shepherd children in Portugal. (October 2017)
 
My dear friends,
 
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima to three shepherd children in Portugal. Beginning on May 13, 1917, Mary appeared once each month to the young visionaries until Oct. 13 of the same year.
 
The message of Fatima can be gleaned from the words
of Mary during these apparitions. They highlight central truths and devotions of our Catholic faith: the Blessed
Trinity, the Eucharist, the need to do penance, the rosary, and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. There is also emphasis on the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the second apparition, the Blessed Mother says to Lucia: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the path that leads you to God.” Mary’s Immaculate Heart is a refuge of maternal love for us all and a sure path that leads us to God! In the end, her heart will prevail because Mary is full of God’s grace, and is all pure. She has the heart of a mother, who cares for her children. She wishes them to be saved by Jesus, her divine Son.
 
Fatima is one of the most significant of all Marian apparitions. It is one of three apparitions honored with a feast day, along with Lourdes and Guadalupe. Up to 5 million people visit Fatima each year, and those numbers will increase during the centennial year. Pope Francis visited Fatima in May to canonize two of the three visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, making them the youngest non-martyrs proclaimed saints by the Church.
 
If we were to sum up the message of Fatima, it could be found in Mary’s words to the servants at the wedding feast in Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.” These words reflect Mary’s twofold role. First, she is the model disciple who is subordinate to her Son. Her words echo the response of the Chosen People in the desert as recounted in the Book of Exodus: “Everything the Lord has said, we will do.” She tells the servants at the wedding feast to listen to her Son, just as the Chosen People listened to the Lord at Mount Sinai.
 
Second, by bringing the wedding host’s needs to Jesus and encouraging the servants to obey Him, Mary
acts as an intermediary between her Son and the members of the household. She presents the needs of people to Jesus and encourages them along the path of discipleship by instructing them to follow His directions.
 
If we desire to live the Fatima message, all we need do is act upon Mary’s words to the servants at the Cana wedding feast. And the heart of the message is this: Sin leads to unhappiness, so we must stop sinning and repent of our sins. If we do, we will enjoy God’s blessings in time and for eternity. There are, however, obvious reasons for why we find the program for living our lives so challenging.
 
God has given us freedom of will. We exercise this gift with lives that are wounded by original sin, resulting from our first parents’ rebellion and disobedience in the Garden of Eden. We are tempted by materialism, that tendency to consider possessions and comfort as more important than spiritual values. We encounter secularism, which is a rejection of faith and religion. We also must deal with relativism, that attitude that holds that there are no moral absolutes and that truth is subjective and determined by society. And of course there is the devil, who preys upon our weaknesses and deftly utilizes the cultural realities mentioned above to weaken our allegiance to Christ.
 
To embrace Fatima’s message, to counteract these tendencies, we must pray! Mary instructed the shepherd children to pray the rosary. She even revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. We stay close to her Son by prayer, but especially by receiving the Eucharist and spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament – Jesus Christ present in our midst in a real and marvelous way.
 
During this month of October, traditionally dedicated to Mary, let us rededicate ourselves to prayer, especially the most holy rosary. Let us turn away from sin, make generous reparation on behalf of sinners and pray for world peace. Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! 
 
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak