95 years ago from that rainy October 13, 1917 at Cova de Iria, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the shepherd children calling all people to live a life of prayer and sacrifice. At that time, the world was suffering from the ravages of World War I which was about to come to an end. It was the same date when the miracle of the sun occurred, after which cures where reported after that event.
Fast forward to today. The last seer of Fatima, Lucia, had already passed on in 2005. The world is at peace, with rumors of conflict here and there. We see churches slowly emptying and people fleeing to other religion in search of peace. The clergy is rocked with scandal, one after the other. We see the degradation of life and the culture of death. What has become of us? Has the messages lost their appeal?
Let’s review the central messages of Fatima:
- A Call to a Life of Prayer. Our Lady calls everyone to a life of prayer. The messages weren’t just for the people living then. It remains applicable today, more so with the onslaught of attacks on the clergy and the Catholic faith. In these times of darkness and confusion, nothing is more comforting than to resort to prayer.
- Sacrifice has infinite value. We live in the age where we simply do not want to be troubled with anything at all. We live on the easy street, where families want to live the good life and bask in the fullness of what life has to offer. When we don’t reach that level of comfort, we think that taking one’s life is the better option.
In a recent report by the National Statistics Office of the Philippines, suicide rates for the past 20 years have risen considerably (Source: http://gulfnews.com/news/world/philippines/suicide-rate-has-steadily-risen-in-philippines-for-21-years-report-1.1049675). Alarmingly, the suicides come from the younger set – people who have never experienced war or any conflict that would spell hardship.
But what we’ve forgotten is that adversities in life builds character and makes us stronger persons. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.). So why should we choose the lesser path of glory? As Catholic Christians, we should be comforted by the fact that suffering wins us our crowns in heaven.
- Conversion. Our Blessed Mother warned that God was “already too much offended” by the atrocities of the world. It’s never too late to change.
- World peace can only be obtained through prayer. There are so many methods in the market which teach you how you can get peace by your own means. Some call it Nirvana, Utopia or whatever—practiced through yoga and other New Age stuff. Even I dabbled in it during my youth, in a quest for the truth that never was. These are disciplines that supposedly teach you how to reach that certain level of restful existence, the Nirvana.
The truth is there is no other way to achieve peace except through prayer, conversion and sacrifice. Our Lady reminds us to retire from the world and prepare ourselves for our heavenly citizenship, and that means shunning everything that the world has to offer.
It’s a struggle for a Catholic like me to live in a world of materialism and false promises. But we should take joy in the fact that it is the effort and love that comes from doing these sacrifices that counts.