Fatima, like Christmas, reminds us to be people of hope and peace

By Patrick Sabat –

As the Fatima U.S. Tour for Peace wraps up at the end of the centennial year, it is important to look back at the beginning of our journey to all 50 states and our effort to bring the message of peace and hope to a world in need. As Advent begins and Christmas approaches, it is also appropriate to revisit the words of Pope Francis in Fatima on May 13, 2017 that marked the centennial anniversary. He called for us to “cling to Mary like children, because she is Our Mother, and live in the hope that rests on Jesus. From Mary’s embrace will come the hope and the peace that is required for our brothers and sisters in the human family.” The Holy Father, once again, entrusted humanity under the mantle of Our Lady and asked everyone to “pray to God with the hope that others will hear us; and let us speak to others with the certainty that God will help us.”

I can testify that during this coast to coast Tour for Peace, we tried to echo the plea and prayer of Pope Francis and the words from the Cova da Iria in Fatima – to speak to the world that true peace can only come from God as exemplified by the youngest non-martyred saints in the history of the Church, Sts. Francisco and Jacinta, with their cousin Sister Lucia. We have visited 140 dioceses in the course of this campaign, proclaiming the lives of these little shepherds and how we can be like them.

It is about time we become part of the story of Fatima. The story did not end at Fatima in 1917, but continues today as we reflect the message in our own daily lives in our own little ways. As we traveled from parish to parish, we witnessed countless people willing to sacrifice for the country and for the world.

It has also become a personal journey for me; an inward quest for inner peace with God and my closest neighbors, which is my domestic church. My own family has sacrificed for the cause of this apostolate. My wife and young children have given me the strength to persevere as they continue to support me and assure me that they are 100 percent behind this work of Our Mother. They keep on reminding me to inspire and give hope to others. We continue to learn the meaning of sacrifice and offer sacrifices. Some of my friends have even asked me why I do this. My answer is simple: if we can sacrifice for our country by serving in the military, why can’t we sacrifice for God and the calls of Our Lady?

Pope Francis reiterated this during his homily at Fatima: “Indeed, God created us to be a source of hope for others, a true and attainable hope, in accordance with each person’s state of life. In ‘asking’ and ‘demanding’ of each of us the fulfillment of the duties of our proper state (Letters of Sister Lucia, 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia. We do not want to be a stillborn hope!  Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives.”

The invitation is for us to be generous to God, to be open to what comes from God and open in what we share with others—that is ourselves. This is what will bring about peace. Our Catechist Mother teaches us this virtue at Fatima. Like the generosity of the three young souls who willingly sacrificed for the conversion of sinners and for the greater glory of God. We, too, can do a sacrificial offering by offering the Lord to others. To be generous enough to give up something for a greater good. To give up sin and selfishness. To be open to God’s holy will.

Tomorrow is a better world because we have a better people, a people closer to God and far from the darkness of sin. It’s a brighter world, because we carry the light of Christ, beginning with ourselves into our homes and community. It is the cloud of sin that darkens our judgment. So, we turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel. It is our sinfulness that clouds our sight of God. So, it is through prayer, penance and conversion that takes us back to our relationship with God.

I pray that we may have a clear and perfect vision of the Christ, like Mary sees her Divine Son. That we may respond to God’s call, first in prayer, then in action. In times of darkness and every day, she continues to bring us the Light of the World. Only the light of Christ can dispel the darkness of this world. True peace can only come from God!

The Canticle of Zechariah in the Gospel of Luke tells us about this: “In the tender compassion of God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1: 58-69).

This is what happened on Oct. 13, 1917—the great miracle of the sun. Mary showed us and gave us Jesus, shining in times of darkness. The world may still be living in darkness and sin, but Mary’s role continues even after 100 years has passed. We, too, have to continue our mission beyond the Fatima centennial celebration.

May Our Lady and the Christ Child give you the gift of generosity this Christmas, so that you may pass it on.

 

 

(This article appeared in our Fall 2017 issue of Soul Magazine. You can review a digital copy of Soul or receive it in your home by subscribing here.)

 

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