One hundred years ago, every month from May to October 13, 1917 in the small Portuguese village of Fatima, the Mother of God appeared six times to three small children: Lúcia dos Santos (10 years old), and her cousins: Francisco (9) and Jacinta Marto (7).
This was an unusually dramatic period in human history. The ongoing First World War was driving Europe to annihilation. Pope Benedict XV was aware of the seriousness of the situation, and that was why on May 5, 1917 he began a novena to the Queen of Peace. On May 13th, the penultimate day of the novena, the Holy Mother appeared to three small children in Fatima, announcing to them a proclamation directed to all Christians and to all of humanity.
An Urgent Call to Repentence
At Fatima the Holy Mother reminded us that rejection of Christ and the Christian system of values is the greatest tragedy for any person and for the entire nation. It is a greater threat than nuclear war and the greatest cataclysms.
Sister Lúcia emphasized that through the Fatima apparitions “God wanted to remind the world of the essentiality of avoiding sin and the duty of making amends to God for our sins through prayer and penance”.
“As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism” (St. John Paul II)
“Repent and believe in the Gospel” — in dramatic fashion this call from Jesus became a reminder to all humanity in the Fatima apparitions. On May 13, 1982 at Fatima St. John Paul II said: “The message of Fatima is, in its basic nucleus, a call to conversion and repentance, as in the Gospel. This call was uttered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it was thus addressed particularly to this present century”. Directing herself to every person with her maternal love and care, Mary reminded us of the greatest threat facing a person: sin, dwelling in sin, and denial of God. Such an attitude will ultimately lead to eternal damnation. The message of Fatima is directed to all people and it is particularly pertinent today. Mary talks about the necessity of prayer. She recommends the rosary and warns against moral degradation, because the breakdown of morality carries war in its wake and leads to self-destruction. The apparitions at Fatima are a particular intervention by God who offers all humanity an effective means of recovery from sin and war. God cannot deprive man of his freedom, but through extraordinary signs, invites us to reject sin and to lead life in accordance with the principles of the Gospel. But everything depends on mankind’s free will; on whether one chooses good or evil. This is why the message of Fatima is an admonition against the horrific consequences of rejecting God and His law.
“The message of Fatima is, in its basic nucleus, a call to conversion and penance as in the Gospel” (St. John Paul II)
At the time of the apparitions the Holy Mother called us to faith in the One Holy Trinity of God who is love and who desires to save everyone. She reminded us of the existence of Heaven, Purgatory, and hell; of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; and of the necessity of prayer and fasting; and encouraged us to a life according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.