The Feast of Fatima

The Feast of Fatima May 13, 2024

For those who are not dialed into the Catholic world, today is the 107th anniversary of the first time the Blessed Mother appeared to the three children in Fatima.  The three children were Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto.  Happy feast of the Luminous Mysteries and Our Lady of Fatima.

I knew the prayer of Fatima and the Luminous mysteries and had some understanding but never ventured to do a deeper dive into the account of Mary’s visitations with the three children over the course of six months.  Today, I read the account more fully.  Not sure why it mattered more today, but I kept hearing, “Pray the rosary.” from multiple sources.  In recent months, the prayer that used to be a daily ritual has become an occasional experience.

In my life, Mary intervened more than a few times, and I know it.  I have felt her guiding hand on my life, on my heart, both when begged, and unasked.  Like a good mom, she comes because she knows 1) she is needed and 2) her aid will be received.   She pours out ridiculous gifts when it is necessary.

I remember the raining rosaries in my life, and her comforting me with countless mothers coming to receive at a mass in August of 1992, and that these moments were hallmarked by a lavishness that mirrors the better vintage her son provided at the wedding feast of Cana.  Mary longs to protect us, to bring us to her son, and is willing to use humor and excess to bring us to the altar.    She’s also willing to hold our hands when we’re at the foot of the cross and have no idea how to bear it.

Today, I’d kept the rosary in my pocket until I got home, and fished it out.  You can’t really write about the Blessed Mother without eventually recognizing these words, are Mary’s whispering reminder to pray.   She’d helped me already make it through a hard day, and shouldn’t I stop and recognize the reality.

Sometimes the Hail Mary’s come fast. Sometimes they drag. In the course of a decade, I can think of so many reasons I should be constantly praying, and at the same time, a thousand things that need doing that aren’t prayer.

I willed myself to stop writing for a time and sometimes the Hail Mary’s came fast. Sometimes they dragged. I think I said the third decade twice but because I kept getting interrupted by conversations, carrying a dish to the sink, washing the silverware, putting way food, phone calls, and financial aid forms.  When I focused, in the course of a decade, I could think of so many reasons I should be constantly praying, and at the same time, a thousand things that need doing that weren’t prayer.  Everything seemed to need doing –and I thought of Saint Martha and Saint Mary. 

The fourth decade, I thought about rushing, because I knew I’d done more than ten before.  Something about praying to your Holy Mother, brings out the kid that tries to figure how to game the system.  Fortunately, the beads helped even as the dog and my own brain distracted.  “Hail Mary, full of grace…” I know I can put on a video or a podcast of the prayers and get through the whole thing in fifteen minutes, and that attempting to say it outside of adoration, the thing takes about an hour with all the pit stops. 

However, the pit stops matter.  They remind me to think about people as I pray, and I remember all those people that moments ago flooded my brain in the euphoria of praying without ceasing.  This woman lost her husband.  That man has a hurt back.  This child is struggling to do any thing.  That child is struggling with the pain of a family crisis.  Finances for this family, cancer for that one, loneliness for a third.  The list fills the decade faster than I can pray.  Mary has all these decades, all these intentions, all these needs she brings to her son. 

By the time I make it to the Glory Be, it has become a slog again, and each word feels pulled.  The Fatima prayer, the Hail holy Queen, and the extra prayer at the end that I don’t know the name of, require firm resolve to finish.  I’m still not sure I did all of it, but I’ve held onto the beads and I’ve tried.  Mary knows I thought to ask her to walk with me.  She will bring my cares to her Son, and that through the prayers, she knows I also came closer to her Son.

That’s her prayer for each of us, and every time we pray and ask her help, it is answered. And so the son, like the sun in the heaven, dances for joy with each petition.  


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