Friday, October 13, 2017
"Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
– Isaiah 41:10
Today we ask for the intercession of Almighty God as wildfires rage in Northern California. Already, these blazes have killed over 20 people, destroyed hundreds of houses and other buildings, and forced thousands of individuals to leave their homes and livelihoods behind in uncertainty. High winds and dry conditions have greatly increased the danger for the people in this region. As brave men and women respond to these disasters, battling the fires and helping people to safety, we call upon God for improved weather, for the blessing of rain and favorable winds, to assist them. We pray that those who are missing or are still in harm's way will be found and protected. May God grant eternal rest to those who have died, and bring them into glory with him forever. We pray, too, for generosity, care, and concern from neighbors and surrounding communities for those who are grieving and displaced. Though we may be weary from all that has taken place around the country in recent days, we know that God cannot be outdone in generosity and charity. May he provide us with new wellsprings of love to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters who are hurting so deeply today.
During the night of 12-13 October it had rained throughout, soaking the ground and the pilgrims who make their way to Fátima from all directions by the thousands. By foot, by cart and even by car they came, entering the bowl of the Cova from the Fátima-Leiria road, which today still passes in front of the large square of the Basilica. From there they made their way down the gently slope to the place where a trestle had been erected over the little holm oak of the apparitions. Today on the site is the modern glass and steel Capelhina (little chapel), enclosing the first chapel built there and the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima where the holm oak had stood. As for the children, they made their way to the Cova amid the adulation and skepticism which had followed them since May. When they arrived they found critics who questioned their veracity and the punctuality of the Lady, who had promised to arrive at noon. It was well passed noon by the official time of the country. However, when the sun arrived at its zenith the Lady appeared as she had said she would.
"What do you want of me?"
I want a chapel built here in my honor. I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day. The war will end soon, and the soldiers will return to their homes.
"Will you tell me your name?"
I am the Lady of the Rosary.
"I have many petitions from many people. Will you grant them?"
Some I shall grant, and others I must deny. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!
"And is that all you have to ask?"
There is nothing more.
As the Lady of the Rosary rises toward the east she turns the palms of her hands toward the dark sky. While the rain had stopped, dark clouds continued to obscure the sun, which suddenly bursts through them and is seen to be a soft spinning disk of silver.
"Look at the sun!"
From this point two distinct apparitions were seen, that of the phenomenon of the sun seen by the 70,000 or so spectators and that beheld by the children alone. Lucia describes the latter in her memoirs. After our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child Jesus seemed to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our lady; it seemed to me to that it was Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolors). Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. [Only Lucia would see the later, presaging her entrance into Carmel some years later.] This would be the last of the apparitions of Fátima for Jacinta and Francisco. However, for Lucia Our Lady would return a seventh time, in 1920, as she had promised the previous May. At that time Lucia would be praying in the Cova before leaving Fátima for a girls boarding school. The Lady would come to urge her to dedicate herself wholly to God. As the children viewed the various apparitions of Jesus, Mary and Joseph the crowd witnessed a different prodigy, the now famous miracle of the sun.