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'Gratitude Permits Us to Receive God's Life'

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Recently, we spent some time with Sr. Stella of the Oblate Sisters of the Virgin Mary of Fatima at the site of the first and third apparitions of the Angel of Peace to the three shepherd children in 1916. Sister Stella shared some great insights into the meaning of the third apparition:

The angel appeared with a chalice in his hand, a Host suspended above it. He bent down in adoration, praying, "Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners."

He then rose from the ground and took the chalice in his hand and the Host. He gave to Lucia the Host, and the chalice he gave to Francisco and Jacinta. And he said to them, "Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ terribly outraged by the ingratitude of men. Offer reparation for their sakes and console God." Then he knelt down once again and prayed with them. And then he disappeared. They would never see him again. These prayers that the angel taught the children remained impressed in their hearts, and they would remember them always.

The first thing we see in this third apparition of the angel is an invitation to offer Communions of Reparation. How can we repair the sins of the world, we mere human beings, sinful in ourselves, if we are not united to Jesus Christ, who is the great repairer of humanity? And when can we be united to Jesus Christ, if not when we receive the Most Blessed Sacrament?

Another thing that emerges from this prayer is that we are to repair for sacrileges and indifference. Surely we can see many of them in regard to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament — so many people today who don't even feel the need to participate at Mass, which is the supreme offering of thanksgiving. But beside these, we are called to realize that sacrileges and indifferences can be in regards to our neighbors. When we receive Holy Communion, we are not receiving only Jesus Christ who lived 2,000 years ago. We are receiving Him in His Mystical Body. When we say "amen," we say "amen" to all those who are part of His Mystical Body. Now, in order to receive Communion worthily, we need to be in communion with our brothers and sisters. If we were to harbor in our hearts animosity, hatred, or unforgiveness toward someone, we would not be able to receive Jesus Christ [worthily] in Communion. We cannot say "amen" to Him and refuse someone else, reject some members of His Body. We are all one in Christ. Now, through Communion, we can actually be united to those who have wounded us. We can actually pray for them and ask Jesus to draw down upon them graces as the most sublime way of living in love toward Jesus and toward others.

Another thing that emerges from the words of the angel is that we are called to repair grave offenses against God, which are ingratitude. Here, he compares them to a crime. Why is ingratitude a terrible sin? Ingratitude closes and hardens our hearts; it doesn't permit us to receive the love of God in which we are totally immersed. When we talk about God being offended, we may think about what we experience when we are offended by someone when they are ungrateful for something we give them. We close our hearts towards them and say, "Okay, that's enough. I'm not going to give them anything anymore."

God doesn't do that with us. When He is offended, that doesn't mean that He closes Himself to our love, to us. I once heard that God is like living water, continually running to shower down His blessings upon us, and we are like a cup. Now if the cup is turned upside down, which would be ingratitude, that water would come, but it would never be able to fill the cup. Gratitude instead is the cup turned upright. Gratitude permits us to receive God's life, permits it to permeate our lives, and permits Him to live in our lives. Ingratitude does just the opposite.

God is not going to cease to give us living water, but He is truly hurt [by our ingratitude], because He realizes that we are actually condemning ourselves to unhappiness, to a life without meaning, a life which is empty, to actually being dead, even if we appear to be living.

So when we think about gratitude, let us also remember the words of St. Paul: "In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess 5:18). We are to be grateful to God in happy things and also in difficulties, because it is an act of trust that we place in God.

Visit marian.org/Fatima for our full coverage of the 100th anniversary of Fatima.

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