Fatima in the Month of May

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One hundred years ago on May 13, Our Lady first appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Here, we present a piece adapted from our archives: Father Robert Fox, a renowned expert on Fatima, retells the story of that first apparition.

Holy Angels always prepare us for the coming of the Lord.

The Angel of the Holy Eucharist had prepared the three little shepherds of Fatima for the coming of God's Mother who would lead them and us to Jesus.

On May 13, 1917, Mary appeared to Jacinta (7 years of age), Francisco (8), and Lucia (10), while they were herding sheep in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal. Appearing brighter than the sun, the Mother of God announced she was from Heaven. She said all three children would go to Heaven, but Francisco must first say many Rosaries.

Every time she appeared each month, May through October 1917, the lady said: "Say the Rosary every day." She said they were to pray the Rosary properly while meditating on the Mysteries.

The first time the Mother of the Church appeared, it was during the month that the Church dedicates to Mary. At the time of the apparitions and today in the Missal of St. John XXIII, May 13 is the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Eucharist. The Fatima message begins with the Eucharist, and it ends with the Eucharist.

When Our Lady opened her hands for the first time at the words "the grace of God," she shed a light so intense that it penetrated to the inmost recesses of the children's hearts, making them see themselves in God, who was that Light, more clearly than they could ever see themselves in a mirror. Our Lady manifested herself from that first apparition as Mediatrix of Grace and as Our Lady of the Eucharist. With the Light communicated from Mary penetrating their spirits, it gave them an interior impulse to fall to their knees, repeating, "Oh, most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament!"

What is the significance for us today of this first apparition at Fatima? Mary already then was calling us to her Eucharistic Son. We must remember that same Light still flows from Mary to us if we are open to her. More than ever do we need to reaffirm our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Pope St. John Paul II, the great Marian and Fatima Pope, on April 17, 2003, issued the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (Church of the Eucharist). From Oct. 2 to 29, 2005, the Church held a worldwide Synod of Bishops to reflect on the Eucharist, to bring light to this admirable Sacrament.

Mary is our Mother and model. She is the Queen of Heaven. Her Immaculate Heart desires to lead us closer to the Eucharistic Heart of her Son, Jesus, as food for eternal life. We should frequently adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass even daily whenever possible. Thus, we will find happiness for today and for eternity.

Father Robert J. Fox was founder and director of the International Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of The Immaculate Heart Messenger. He authored more than 50 books and tapes, including Fatima Today — Third Millennium.

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