his coming Friday we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children in Portugal.
Mary was from the early years of Christianity was known as the Panagia: the All-Holy one from whose virginal purity the Son of God took flesh. The Church saw her prefigured in the book of Genesis (3:15) as the woman whose offspring would crush the head of the serpent; whose immaculate purity and intimate unity with Christ would permit her, too, to triumph over Satan. The Fathers of the Church praised Mary in the words of the Psalms and the Prophets as the Enclosed Garden, the Tower of David, and the Temple of God. The Fathers wrote often about her privileges of innocence and sanctity that prepared her to be the dwelling-place of Christ when He was born in the flesh.
Oftentimes, secular culture criticizes the Church for emphasizing the purity and holiness of Mary, as if her perfection made her unapproachable. In fact, the opposite is true. Mary’s sinlessness is precisely what makes her the most approachable, the most understanding of our weakness, the most near to us. There is no barrier in her heart between her and us. She is like Christ – totally accessible. It is sin that creates distances, making us harsh and judgmental towards each other.
One of the things that always strikes me about Mary’s interventions in human history is that she reminds us that anything really important cannot change or come about without prayer.
At Fatima, Mary asked that people turn away from sin, that the faithful pray, use the rosary and do penance and spiritual works for the peace of the world. So often our world and its leaders think that merely legislating will bring about the necessary changes we all desire in our society. Mary asks us to turn our hearts and minds heaven-ward, to pray and join in the spiritual battle that is going on all around us.
I asked some people to share how their relationship to Mary helps them in their daily journey. One of them wrote: “On good days, it helps me to contemplate the life of Jesus through the eyes of His Blessed Mother as I concentrate on the mysteries. On not so good days, when my mind seems to be too preoccupied with worries, fears, and the business of life, I know that our loving Mother Mary is there to intercede for me.”
But my favorite reflections came from the school students in our Catholic school and our Religious education program:
“Mary, the Mother of God, is so important to me. When I am troubled I call to her to pray for me and to bring me closer to her Son Jesus. Also when she suffered through watching the passion of her son I can look at her at that moment and say: This is nothing compared to Mary’s struggle. She keeps me going through the hard times.”
“The rosary deeply connects me with Mary and her son Jesus. In times of anger it soothes me. When I think that I have nothing to be thankful for, she reminds me that all things are a blessing in disguise.”
“Mary is important to me because she is like a second mom for me.”
So many of the children spoke of praying the rosary with their family and how this devotion has helped them. This is very encouraging to me. Mary is our Mother but she is also a disciple. She walked in faith, trusting, in both the joyful and difficult sufferings she endured and remained a faithful follower.
I would like to invite you to our special celebration on Friday, October 13th Come and pray with us. We will process through the neighborhood symbolizing our spiritual journey and give thanks for all that our Lady for leading us closer to her Son Jesus Christ. God bless, Fr. Dennis