by Fr. Jeff Loseke
On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three young children at Fatima, Portugal and identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary.” She continued to appear to the children each month through October 13th and revealed to them a plan for peace in the world through personal prayers and penances. At her final appearance to them on October 13th, about 70,000 people had gathered to witness the children as they spoke to the Virgin. Everyone present that day testified to having seen the “miracle of the sun” as it “danced” in the sky, thus confirming the apparition for the onlookers.
On May 13, 1981, Pope St. John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square at point-blank range. Of this assassination attempt, the Pope later wrote: “Could I forget that the event… took place on the day and at the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fatima, Portugal? …I felt that extraordinary motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly bullet.” One year after he was shot, St. John Paul placed a crown on the statue of Mary in Fatima in which was suspended the very bullet that came so close to claiming his life. Why? The Pope absolutely believed that it was a miracle of Our Lady of Fatima that had preserved his life that day.
On May 13, 2017, we will mark one hundred years since Our Lady first appeared to the three young children in Fatima. Her message to them then—and to us now—is a message of urgency. Mary has exhorted us to prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners and for lasting peace in our world. In the last century, the human race has suffered the effects of so much evil: human life has been destroyed in countless numbers, the divide between the East and West has grown, marriage and the family are under attack, faithless secularism is on the rise, and sin and its consequent effects continue to abound in every corner of the globe. Nevertheless, we know that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20). The Virgin Mary is a shining example of this testament. She, as Mediatrix of All Graces, demonstrates to us the magnanimous will of the Father that His children through adoption, raised up by the grace of the Cross and Resurrection of His Son and flooded by the Gift of the Holy Spirit ought to participate in the salvation of the whole world by our union with Him and His salvific will. Like St. John Paul II in 1981, and the 70,000 in 1917, we too ought to be ready to witnesses the miracles God desires to work in our lives through the intercession of His Son’s Mother. As we approach the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima, then, we recommit ourselves to personal prayer and to doing penance so that all souls, especially those most in need of God’s mercy, will be saved.
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: Fatima Grotto (Sorrowful Mother Shrine) – Statue of the Children, 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)