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Photo: Marie Romagnano

A view of Fatima, where thousands of pilgrims flock to daily to draw closer to our Lord through Our Lady.

Key to Fatima can be Found in 'Reparation'

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On this, the 90th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima in Portugal, the impulse is to focus on the otherworldly aspects of this spectacular visitation of the "Lady from Heaven." Thoughts drift to the three little shepherd children — Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia — in that small field, bedazzled by a woman radiating a glow as intense as the sun. Then there's the matter of the Three Secrets.

Sister Lucia herself, destined to live for 97 years to become the literal face of Fatima, often complained that, while the mysterious elements of the 1917 visitations attracted attention out of simple human curiosity, the focus should be on Mary's message itself.

Sister Lucia oft-repeated that Fatima was about living in a way pleasing to God. That's why Our Lady told the world to offer reparation for sin, pray the Rosary, and keep the 10 Commandments.

Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, Rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, agrees.

"Fatima is about reparation and the 10 Commandments," Fr. Anthony says. "The message for us today is the same as it was back then. It's about 'getting back' to God."

By "getting back," Fr. Anthony means a return to "this vital Judeo-Christian call to ethics and morality. That is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes an entire section to the 10 Commandments."

Sister Lucia, who was known for her sense of humor and playfulness, used to say the easy way to keep the 10 Commandments was to obey her 11th Commandment — "Do whatever God tells you. This is what Our Lady wants."

Father Anthony says the National Shrine is making a special effort to honor Mary's wishes.

"Repentance is the key to Fatima," Fr. Anthony says. "The Blessed Mother asks us to make reparation through sacrifices for sinners. I also see the Five First Saturdays [called for by Our Lady of Fatima] as an excellent way of reparation. Every Saturday, the Shrine honors the Blessed Virgin Mary, but especially on the first Saturday of each month."

The National Shrine also offers a Rosary for Life every day at 1:30 p.m., sandwiched by confessions before and Mass after. Moreover, the Shrine observes a Holy Hour every day between 1 and 2 p.m.

"What Mary gave the world at Fatima isn't new," Fr. Anthony says. "It was God's way of re-emphasizing His love of us, because by that time the world had gotten off the track."

Indeed, it had, with a World War raging in Europe and the unabashed decadence of the roaring twenties waiting in the wings. Mary told the shepherd children that if the world did not make reparation through prayer, other great cataclysms would follow.

We need only look at the Great Depression, the rise of Bolshevik communism, World War II, and the development and use of the atomic bomb to see that this was no idle threat.

In fact, it was no threat at all. It was a warning made out of the deepest love, the love of a Mother for her children.

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