October 13, 1917: 100 Years Later
October 13 was the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. On that day she identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary, she asked a chapel be built in her honor, she asked the children to continue praying the Rosary daily for an end to the war (World War I was still raging at the time), she warned people to amend their lives and seek pardon from God. Then she closed with these insistent words: “They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”
When the Virgin’s words were done, there followed the miracle of the sun, in which marvelous beauty was quickly transformed into a fearful spectacle that led people to think that the day of judgment had arrived. Yet, at the same time, the children witnessed Jesus, Mary, and Joseph blessing the world. That indeed is the judgment: God’s blessing, God’s mercy, God’s love, if rejected will finally turn to condemnation for those who refuse the invitation.
Jesus said, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. (Jn 3:17-19) These words follow immediately upon the famous passage: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (Jn 3:16)
Returning to the Virgin’s message on that 13th day of October 100 years ago lets start from the end and work towards the beginning.
First: Stop offending God. We are so worried about offending other people, but we have little concern for offending God. Really, we need to start taking God seriously.
If we are to stop offending God then we must amend our life, we must change our way of thinking and acting. That was the preaching first of St. John the Baptist and then of Jesus, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mt 3:2, 417) The Greek word that was used for ‘repentance’ is ‘metanoia’; it means a complete transformation of a person’s way of thinking and acting. St. Paul describes it this way: Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Rm 12:2)
Yet, it is not enough just to leave off our sins and begin practicing good works. Our good works do not redeem our past sins. We would like to leave that past behind and forget about it; we would like to close the book on those dark chapters in our life; we want to move on as though nothing had happened. The result is that those sins remain buried, like radioactive material poorly contained, and their poison seeps throughout the root system of our soul. We can only overcome those sins by facing them honestly, as painful as that may be, and by confessing them. That is why the Church requires that mortal sins be confessed by kind and number. When we confess our sins we seek pardon of God. Only he can redeem us; only he can forgive us our sins; only he can wipe the slate clean so that we can truly close the chapter and move on with our life.
Finally, pray the Rosary daily for an end to the war, for peace, for peace in the war torn world, peace among nations, peace within nations, peace in our cities and towns, peace in our families and in our homes, peace in our own hearts.
We will try many things, but we will not do the one simple thing that God asks of us: pray and put our trust in him. Pray not to bend his will to ours, but to conform our will to his.
And why the Rosary? Because the Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, full of grace, is the most excellent teacher of prayer.
Consider this: Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray so as not to fall into temptation, and they fell asleep. (cf. Mt 26:36-45) But when the same disciples gathered with Mary in the upper room in Jerusalem the persevered together for nine days awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:13-14)