Saturday, May 13, 2017

100 Years Later: Fatima and the Prayer of the Gospel

May 13, 2017!

Here we arrive at a bright moment in our Centennial, a moment that indeed is more present in significance and impact on the Church and the world than ever.

As we join Pope Francis in marking the 100th anniversary of the first visit of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children in the fields of the village of Fatima in Portugal, we begin a season of remembrance which is not simply recalling past events, but living the presence of Him who is the Son of Mary, who is Lord of history and who chose to intervene in the midst of the great evils of the world through the tenderness of His loving mother.

Mary came in a very particular way and entered the experience of little children (as the canonization of the young Jacinta and Francisco reminds us) during the period from May to October of 1917. She transformed their experience by presenting the full witness of the Gospel, letting them see both the tremendous mercy of God and the stubborn resistance of human beings bent on their own destruction.

She asked them (and us) to make sacrifices for sinners, to live the mystery of her Son's passion in a personal solidarity that would bring His saving presence to a desperate world.

And she asked them to pray. She asked them, and all of us, to enter more deeply into the whole of the Gospel, to be with Jesus in a more profound and intimate way by "praying the Gospel" in union with her own heart.

She asked us to pray the prayers given in the Gospel (from the words of the angel Gabriel, of Elizabeth "filled with the Holy Spirit," and of Jesus Himself) and to fill our minds and hearts with the Gospel, to learn to dwell with Jesus the way that she did. She asked us to join with her in her own great pilgrimage as she accompanied Him from the moment of the Incarnation to the fulfillment of the beginning of the New Creation in the glory that He has shared with her. We journey together with her, with hearts and hands and voices.

This is the Rosary.

Fatima is about Jesus. It is about growing closer to Jesus through His mother, the Theotokos. It is about growing closer to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary--her "heart" which is her utterly unique personality shaped by her singular experience of God's Love. She wants so much to draw all of us into the embrace of this Love, this tenderness that has transformed her into our mother.

She will teach us to become little children again.