How We Should Celebrate the Fatima Centenary
As the Church prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal, Prof MICHAEL OGUNU explains the significance of the apparitions, the message and how to celebrate the centenary.
This year is the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima which took place between May and October 1917 to three shepherd children — Lucia dos Santos and siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto — in that small town in northern Portugal.
Pope Francis declared that the celebrations of the centenary of Fatima apparitions should begin on November 27, 2016 and end on November 26, 2017.
Over this week and next, we will be looking at what you need to know about the apparitions of Fatima.
What were the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima?
On May 13, 1917, Our Lady first appeared to the shepherd children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima. She appeared to them again on June 13, July 13, August 19, September 13 and October 13.
During the course of her apparitions, she delivered some important messages to the children to announce to the world.
In all the apparitions, Our Lady told them to “pray the rosary every day”. She also told them to “pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them”.
She warned: “Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because he is already so much offended.”
She told them to continue to pray the rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the First World War — which had been raging since 1914 and ended in November 1918 — because only she can bring peace. She assured them that “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”.
What are the highlights of the message of Fatima?
The highlights of the message of Fatima include the following:
- Amendment of Life: “I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not continue to offend Our Lord, who is already too much offended.”
- Five Warnings: “If my requests are not granted, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. Many good people will be martyred; there will come another great war (Second World War), and various nations will be destroyed.”
- War: “Wars are a punishment for the sins of mankind.”
- Sins of the Flesh: “More souls go to hell because of the sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
- Immodest Fashions: “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.”
- Sinful Marriages: “Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.”
- Daily Rosary: “Say the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world. And after each decade say the following prayer: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of thy mercy’.”
- Prayer and Sacrifice: “Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no-one to make sacrifices and pray for them.”
- Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
- First Saturday Devotion: “I promise to help at the hour of death with the graces needed for salvation those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries, with the intention of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart” (Message communicated to Sr Lucia in 1925).
- World Peace: “Tell everybody that God gives his graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tell them to ask graces from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her… In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph, Russia will be converted and there will be peace.”
What prayer did Our Lady emphasise most at Fatima?
The prayer which Our Lady emphasised most at Fatima is the rosary. In all her six apparitions, from May 13 to October 13, 1917, she told the children to “say the rosary every day”.
Why mark the centenary?
The objectives of the celebration of the centenary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima include the following:
- To stress the importance of the apparitions of Fatima for the Church and for the world.
- To spread the message of Fatima nationwide and worldwide.
- To deepen our knowledge of the theology of the message of Fatima.
- To develop pastoral proposals in the life of the message of Fatima.
- To promote the living out of the spirituality of Fatima.
- To develop the Marian dimension in the Christian expression of the faith.
Celebration for parishes
The programme for parishes and groups for days which may be specified for them in the general programme of celebration of the centenary should include:
- Daily rosary recitation in all parishes
- A talk on the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Rosary procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima during which the 20-decade rosary is recited accompanied with Marian hymns.
- Eucharistic celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Fatima and in reparation to Her Immaculate Heart on the anniversary days of the apparitions.
- Act of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- Act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- Prayer in honour of Our Lady of Fatima (before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima)
- Prayer for the intentions of the pope (one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one I Believe in God, one Glory Be)
- Pray the rosary every day.
- Participate more frequently and actively in Eucharistic celebrations.
- Pay more visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as acts of reparation to our Eucharistic Lord who is greatly offended by the sins of men.
- Participate actively in the spiritual exercises and programmes for your group and those organised by your parish including lectures, seminars and workshops to deepen your understanding of the role of Mary in the salvation of mankind.
- Practise the First Saturdays devotion fervently as required by Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother.
- Imitate the virtues of Mary, especially her ardent charity, purity, humility, obedience, lively faith and submission to the holy will of God in all things, and so on.
Prof Michael Ogunu is a member of the International Board of Trustees of the World Apostolate of Fatima and Coordinator of the Fatima Apostolate in Africa.
Join The Southern Cross and Radio Veritas on a pilgrimage to Fatima and other holy sites in October. See www.fowlertours.co.za/fatima for information