Even if we recognise the importance of the events at Fatima when the Mother of God appeared to three little children, the awareness that this took place one hundred and six years ago, in 1917, can leave us feeling disconnected from those heavenly events, now so far back in the past.
Pope Benedict seemed to disagree with this summation; speaking at Fatima on 13 May 2010, he said – “We would be mistaken to think that the prophetic mission of Fatima is complete.”
I would add that my view is that our connection to Fatima is not over, either – we are not disconnected from those events.
At Her third appearance in the Cova da Iria, the Blessed Virgin offered us a very powerful way to connect ourselves to the message of prayer and peace which She was offering to us – and by means of that connection, to live out Her message. This connection comes in the form of what we know call ‘the Five First Saturdays’ devotion, although at the time, the Blessed Virgin described it as ‘the Communions of Reparation’ – this latter name highlights what is really at the centre of the devotion.
I wrote a post previously, ‘The Five First Saturdays’, and you may like to read this – it describes the core elements of the devotion and how we can put it into practice. The devotion is simple enough for any of us to undertake without difficulty – all it really requires is our willingness to do so, and to do so in the spirit in which it was offered to us.
I shall come to ask for .. the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturdays.
This devotion of the Five First Saturdays is our personal way of living out the message of Fatima, even now – perhaps especially now – more than a century later. It asks of us only a little time spent at Mass and then in prayer, all done to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. All this is done once a month for five consecutive months, on the first Saturday of each. In essence, the Blessed Virgin asks us to give Her around one hour each month, for five months in succession. It doesn’t seem so very much to ask when it is described in this way, does it?
By means of this devotion, we maintain a direct connection to the event of Fatima and we have a way of responding at the personal level to the requests made in the course of that event. Of course, our faith reminds us that it is not purely an individual endeavour – the authentic practice of Christian faith may begin with the individual, but it opens out to the entire community, encompassing all of humanity. The response we give Our Lady by means of the Five First Saturdays devotion achieves precisely this – because the intention of the devotion is not only ourselves and our own salvation, but that of the whole world, through this act of reparation. Fatima reminds us very much about the communal effects of both sin and it’s antidote, reparation.
Speaking at Fatima in May 2000 at the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Pope John Paul II said – “A message of conversion and hope has spread from Fatima which is the true Gospel of Christ presented anew to our generation.” In his view, then, the events of Fatima are as timeous and necessary now as they were in 1917.
And our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, emphasised this when he said – “Following the example of St John Paul II, a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, let us listen attentively to the Mother of God and ask for peace for the world.”
And how we need that peace now, in our own day.