A day when God shouted, and with great humility reached out to us through children…
he Blessed Mother appeared to three small-town children in Portugal in 1917, calling on the world to repent and say the Rosary. At first, the only person who believed them was Ti Marto, the father of two of the children.
But then, on October 13, a promised miracle — the “Miracle of the Sun” — was witnessed by 70,000 people, including skeptics and scientists.
After that, everyone believed.
“The sun painted the world in different colors,” described Ti Marto, who must have been as happy as the children to see it. “It moved and danced in the sky!”
The Fatima experiences became a central defining feature of the Church thereafter — including every papacy up to including Francis, who canonized the Marto children.
This is because God shouted a message on October 13 that is impossible to ignore.
First: The miracle told the world of God’s huge humility.
The strange nature of the Miracle of the Sun — a spectacular public miracle that was announced ahead of time — is hard to exaggerate.
God almost never works that way. God is all-powerful, with all of the reality in his grasp. He is the artist of every sunset, the inventor of every wonder of nature and the author of history. He doesn’t need to give a big display to prove himself: The cosmos is big enough, thank you.
But sometimes he does anyway.
“The silver sun … was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds,” reported the newspaper of Lisbon, Portugal. “People wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited.”
The unmistakable meaning of this miracle is that God is greater than everything we know. He is not just greater than the sun, he is greater than the laws that govern the movement of the sun.
But the miracle also makes clear that God is also the “hound of heaven,” the humble God who will stop at nothing to win our love.
He’s the God who gives you the Star of Bethlehem and the Good Friday eclipse reported in the Gospels — and if you don’t believe the Gospels, he gives you the Miracle of the Sun reported in the newspapers.
Second: He made it clear that we can trust Mary.
Fatima is not the first time heaven and earth have been moved by Mary.
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1, the start of God’s redemption of man hangs on a word from Mary.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, it is Mary who prompts Jesus’s first public miracle— the start of his ministry. In John, chapter 19, that ministry ends with Mary, too.
For the Church, it’s the same way. In Acts, Chapter 1, Mary is there when the Church is formed. In Revelation, Chapter 12, she is there at its peak.
It should be no surprise that Mary remains at the center of God’s plans today. Consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, from St. Louis de Montfort to Father Michael Gaitley, have blossomed since Mary told the world at Fatima that “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Third: God showed the importance of the family.
While onlookers saw the Miracle of the Sun, the three shepherd children saw something different:: They saw the image of a father and son. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appear in the sky, with Jesus blessing the whole world.
It is as if Mary, after drawing the world’s attention to God’s call for repentance and to prayer, wanted to showcase what was most important. Not herself, not hell, and not the Holy Father or the hierarchy, all of which appeared in earlier visions — the most important thing was Jesus, the son God entrusted to the care of Joseph. The most important thing is the human family.
As Sister Lucia would later put it in a letter to a cardinal: “[T]he final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, she added because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way because this is the decisive issue.”
Fourth: She showed that children — and each of us — can change the world.
The Miracle of the Sun will be marked from coast to coast and around the globe, in major celebrations including Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s candlelight procession in Washington, D.C., and a Rosary in the Los Angeles cathedral.
These celebrations mark 100 years of the Fatima experience — 100 years of Catholics praying for the conversion of Russia and praying to be saved from “the fire of hell.”
It all started because Our Lady of Fatima reached out to three children, and they told the world that the fate of mankind rests not on presidents and international councils, but on each of us, praying and sacrificing for sinners.
Just as it has from the very beginning.
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