Our Lady of Fatima Novena
October 5 - 13
The story of Fatima begins with three humble shepherd children. Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta lived quiet lives. They tended their sheep and enjoyed playing games together. They were ordinary children, who took part in an extraordinary event.
In 1917, in a series of apparitions, Our Blessed Mother appeared to the three shepherd children. On October 13, 1917 about 70,000 people gathered in the pouring rain because Our Blessed Mother promised the children a miracle would take place as a sign of her messages to them. During the apparition, the rain stopped and the clouds parted. The spectators could view the sun without discomfort. They saw the sun whirl and dance. Prior to the Miracle of the Sun, the spectators were drenched with rain. After the sun became still, they were completely dry.
During each of the apparitions Our Lady told the children of the importance of prayer and penance, especially during troubled times. Her message has often been interpreted in light of the devastating world wars which broke out soon after her appearance. Today, considering the recent attacks against the United States, and the retaliatory strikes launched last week, Our Lady's words seem especially apt once again.
Mary, you appeared to the children of Fatima to deliver an urgent message about our troubled world. Soon after, the entire world was at war, resulting in terrible sorrow and destruction. Today, as violence has erupted again, in distant lands and even in our own home, the prayers and sacrifice you pleaded for are needed as much as ever. Some parts of the world are torn by fighting disguised as religious zeal, and even our own neighborhoods are divided by racial tension. Charity begins at home; if we fail to love the neighbor at our doorstep, how will we spread the Gospel of love beyond?
Mary, today I hear your words and I call upon your Son to come to our aid and end the suffering that we cause one another. I pray for an end to all wars throughout the world. Help us, Jesus, to sow love in the place of hatred.
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were very young and yet, Mary, you chose them to be to be your messengers to the world. In doing so, you reminded us that, as followers of Jesus, we must be like little children – trusting and loving. Let us pray that we too may be like children, choosing to offer love and trust where we would be tempted to choose hatred and suspicion.
Mary, I trust your Son completely. But sometimes, I live in fear. I want to love unconditionally, but I am too afraid to let go of my anxieties, too afraid to admit that I cannot control everything. I want to be your Son's instrument to accomplish God's will. Today, through your intercession, Mary, I ask Jesus to help me be like a little child holding His hand, trusting all to Him.
The children of Fatima heard your plea to pray. Today, we also need to pray, especially for peace in the world. We have been reminded most painfully of how uncertain life is, and how fragile. Yet rather than despair, we are moved to grow closer to God, so as to know the comfort of His presence in this world and in the next. For the kingdom comes like a thief in the night; truly we know not the hour nor the day.
Show me, Mary, how to pray always. Help me to speak to God as to a trusted friend, sharing my truest feelings. Guide me, also, in my efforts to reach that perfect inner silence, so that I may listen for what God has to tell me. Throughout my busy and distracting days, help me to keep my mind and my heart centered on God.
At Fatima, Mary, you called on us to make sacrifices. The great needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in our country and around the world ask of us sacrifices today. Many have answered these requests with gifts of money and supplies. Many others have chosen to serve something greater than themselves, far from the comfort of home. Let us all be willing to give what we can; let us all seek to think less of ourselves than of those who have less.
Whisper a reminder in my ear each morning, Mary, to offer all my day's actions, thoughts, and words, all my gifts of time and treasure, to God. As I make this offering, I call to mind all the people affected by my actions each day. I ask God today to help me to be motivated by love and compassion in all that I do.
Mary, at Fatima you told us: "Do penance." At this time, it may seem an especially galling task; we would rather point out how grievously we have been wronged by others. It may seem that your Son's proverb has been turned on its head – the plank is in our brother's eye, the speck in our own. Yet still we must turn our scrutiny upon ourselves. Having been deeply hurt, we recognize that we have also hurt others, and we seek all the more readily to mend what we have broken.
Mary, help me find the humility to seek forgiveness for my sins and make amends for my wrongful actions. Help me to open my heart to the healing touch of Jesus.
Mary, the children said they had seen a vision of hell. All too many people around the world live in places so desperate that they might be compared to hell. In many places, terror strikes daily and innocents die in senseless war. The cycle of violence and revenge is perpetuated, with no end in sight. We would do well to remember the relative comfort we are blessed with, and realize that many are not so fortunate.
Today, Mary, I pray for an easing of the suffering and injustice that mark much of the world. I pray for all who face oppression at the hands of another. I pray that they find a peaceful way to resolve their differences. I pray in thanksgiving for all the blessings I enjoy; may I be always ready to share them with others.
Mary, through the power of God you performed a miracle at Fatima and made the sun dance. Jesus told us that, even with faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. This is hard to believe – yet every day, we all have opportunities to make a great difference in the world. We can open closed hearts with our love. This may seem a small and undramatic kind of miracle, but it is the kind most needed today.
Mary, I pray that I might follow your example, and allow myself to be one through whom God works in the world. Though the work may be so small and simple as to seem insignificant, help me to trust in God's greater plan. May I be always, like you, willing to answer God's call.
Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were all normal children living ordinary lives. As they show us, we do not need to be important or powerful in the eyes of the world to do God's work. When we feel too small and helpless to change things, we remember that all we need are faith, trust, humility, and wisdom, to make of ourselves God's instruments.
God, I am an ordinary person. But like the children of Fatima, I want to bring Your Word to the world. Give me the strength to overcome my fears and my doubts, so that I might be a messenger of Your love.
Mary, your apparition at Fatima was an extraordinary event. Most of us will never experience an apparition. But we know that Christ lives in our hearts and comes to us in the Eucharist. How wonderful it is that we can receive the body and blood of your Son and be nourished by it.
Thank you, Mary, for appearing to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta and delivering a message that is as relevant today as it was then. Thank You, God my Creator, for giving me life and so many blessings. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me Your body and blood in the Eucharist. And thank You, Holy Spirit, for dwelling in me and giving me courage. Most of all, thank You, God, for Your love.