Apparitions of Mary
Mary Approaches Us As A Loving Mother
An apparition is the actual appearance of God, Mary, an angel, or a saint to a person on earth. In the course of God's dealing with His chosen people, the Bible records many such happenings when special directions, assistance, or a message is given out of love to help us.
It was in the year 1917, during the first World War, a war fought - we are told - to end all wars, which saw the destruction of the resources of Europe, and millions of lives. Just six months before the communist revolt in Russia overthrew the government and began to spread its terror throughout the world, Mary, the Mother of God's Divine Son, came from Heaven to appear to three shepherd children in Portugal.
Lucia, the oldest, was eleven, Francisco was nine, and his sister Jacenta who was seven, were all together in the Cova da Iria on a typical Portuguese sunny day at noon-time with their sheep. They had just finished saying their rosary when they saw lightening flashes and heard loud crashes of thunder. They became frightened, and started to take their sheep to shelter, when a beautiful lady appeared to them. She was standing on a small cloud which hovered over a low tree. She held a rosary in her hand and was dressed in white which dazzled because of the brilliant light which surrounded her.
She told the children that she came from heaven, and that they were to return to the same place where she would visit them on the 13th day of each month until October. She asked them to pray the rosary each day for peace. Then she left.
The children's parents were upset when they learned about the lady because they thought their neighbors would laugh at them, and the public officials who were communist might harm them. Over the six months during which Mary visited the children, some people encouraged them, others made fun of them, they were put into jail, and even threatened with torture and death by the communists and members of organizations which opposed God's church.
During her visits, Mary told the children that they would suffer much, and that Francisco and Jacinta would be with her in heaven in a few years. She allowed them to briefly see a vision of those suffering in Hell who had hated God on earth, and told them how churches would be destroyed, and priests killed by those who disliked her Son.
promised that a great miracle would occur in October so the world could see and
believe her message. When the date arrived in October for Mary's last
visit, the weather was terrible. The fields were soaked by heavy rains
which had started
the day before. The rains
turned the dirt roads into muddy streams for the more than 70,000 people who had
walked sometimes for hours
and now stood completely soaked around the small tree over which Mary usually
Mary visited the children as she had before, and told them that she was the Madonna of the Holy Rosary, and that she would like for a chapel to be built in her honor. Then the rains stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun began to spin like a giant wheel giving off colored rays of light which were seen for up to 20 miles away. It grew larger and seemed to move toward the earth. Many thought the end of the world had come and fled in panic, while others knelt in prayer. While this was happening, the children were shown visions of the Holy Family, Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, and Mary as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. After ten minutes, the sun returned to its normal position in the sky, and the onlookers found that their wet clothing was now completely dry as was the ground which had just before been thoroughly soaked.
People turned to pray the rosary and the World War ended. Within several years, both Francisco and Jacinta died, and Lucia entered the convent as a Carmelite sister.
Mary was conceived like us and is like us in all ways, but through special Divine favors, remained entirely free from sin. She is the closest of all human creation to Jesus. All prayers and devotions we direct to Jesus also honor Mary His Mother, whom He loved, and still loves in Haven. The more a soul offers itself to Mary, the more it offers itself to Jesus. There is no competition in heaven. To be consecrated to Mary means we chose to be set apart for her use. To be used by her is to accomplish her purpose which is to bring us through her to her Divine Son.
Mary's message at Fatima was that we were to stop offending God by our sins. And that in order to make up for sins committed against her Son, and convert sinners, she asked us to accept all the sufferings God sends to us as acts of reparation. We do not need to seek out ways to suffer, we are encouraged to deal with those situations which confront us each day. We should fulfill our spiritual and physical daily duties as best we can, in whatever vocation of life we have. Spiritual or mental duties involves dealing with uncertainties, feelings of anger or impatience, disappointments and annoyances. Physical duties means that we put up with the inconveniences of illness, the pains of sickness or disease, the discomforts of confinement to bed, or the physical difficulties we experience as our life changes.
Mary promised peace to the world and the conversion of Russia when we prayed daily. When she appeared to the three children, she held a rosary and told them to say it each day for peace in the world. The need of prayer through the rosary was so important to Mary that she promised to Lucia eight years later to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation for all who recite the rosary daily, receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, and go to confession with the intention of making reparation.
For those who have no ideal - nothing to live or die for, with no sense of purpose or direction - Mary's words fill this spiritual vacuum. She has told us to consecrate ourselves to her immaculate heart, to do penance, and pray daily.
Fatima in Portugal today, is the focal point for many pilgrims world-wide who offer to Mary their love, good works, and prayers - certain that in her love for her children, Mary's requests to her Son will never be refused.