The Spirituality
of Fatima

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Rev. Edward Carter, S.J.

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Shepherds of Christ Publications
P.O. Box 193
Morrow, OH 45152-0193
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Imprimi Potest:    Rev. Bradley M. Schaeffer, S.J.
                              Chicago Province
                              The Society of Jesus

Nihil Obstat:        Edward B. Brueggeman, S.J.

Imprimatur:          Carl K. Moeddel
                              Auxiliary Bishop
                              Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio
                              December 20, 1993

The author gives special acknowledgement for the use of excerpts from the following:

Scripture texts are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday Company.

Our Lady of Fatima’s Peace Plan from Heaven, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois.

Copyright (c) 1999 Rev. Edward Carter, S.J.

Table of Contents

1. Fatima: The Setting

2. Fatima: The Message

3. The Spirituality of Consecration


Fatima: The Setting

On October 13, 1917, there were more than 70,000 people gathered in the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal. They had come to observe a miracle which had been foretold by the Blessed Virgin to three young visionaries: Lucia dos Santos, and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.1 Shortly after noon, Our Lady appeared to the three visionaries:

As the Lady was about to leave, she pointed to the sun. Lucy excitedly repeated the gesture, and the people looked into the sky. The rain had ceased, the clouds parted, and the sun shone forth, but not in its usual brilliance. Instead, it appeared like a silver disc, pale as the moon, at which all could gaze without straining their eyes. Suddenly, impelled by some mysterious force, the disc began to whirl in the sky, casting off great shafts of multicolored light. Red, green, blue, yellow, violet—the enormous rays shot across the sky at all angles, lighting up the entire countryside for many miles around, but particularly the upturned faces of those 70,000 spellbound people.

After a few moments the wonder stopped, but resumed again a second and a third time—three times in all—within about 12 minutes. It seemed that the whole world was on fire, with the sun spinning at a greater speed each time.
Then a gasp of terror rose from the crowd, for the sun seemed to tear itself from the heavens and come crashing down upon the horrified multitude.... Just when it seemed that the ball of fire would fall upon and destroy them, the miracle ceased, and the sun resumed its normal place in the sky, shining forth as peacefully as ever.

When the people arose from the ground, cries of astonishment were heard on all sides. Their clothes, which had been soaking wet and muddy, now were clean and dry. Many of the sick and crippled had been cured of their afflictions. 2

The above describes the great miracle which brought to conclusion the series of apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima which took place six times, from May to October 1917. The Miracle of the Sun was the sign God gave to the world in proof of the authenticity of the apparitions. The event was reported in newspapers around the world.

With one exception, Mary always appeared on the 13th of the month, above an holm oak tree in the valley named Cova da Iria. The only deviation from the 13th was the August apparition. During this particular month, Mary appeared to the children near the village of Valinhos on August 19. The children were in jail on the 13th of that particular month. The mayor, in an attempt to stop the events, had had the young visionaries kidnapped and imprisoned, but fearing violence on the part of the people, he soon released them.

Since the apparitions of 1917, millions of pilgrims have come to Fatima. Fatima is a small, rural town about 90 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal. It is situated within hilly terrain which is lined with numerous cedar trees. The Cova da Iria—grazing ground at the time of the apparitions—now appears as a huge, paved area which lies in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima. About 50 yards in front of the Basilica, and to the left as one faces the Basilica, is the Chapel of Apparitions. Here, within the sanctuary, is a glass-enclosed statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The statue is situated on the spot of the holm oak tree over which Our Lady appeared to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco.

In the middle of the great square, one sees a large statue of the Sacred Heart. The arms of Christ are outstretched, welcoming all to come to the refuge of His Heart. Above the entrance of the Basilica is a statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two statues vividly remind us of the alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. As we shall soon see, this union of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart forms the very core of the Fatima message.

As is to be expected, the largest crowds of pilgrims gather on the 13th of the month from May through October.

I was privileged to be present at Fatima on a very special day, October 13, 1992. This date marked the 75th anniversary of the final apparition. It was, indeed, a most memorable occasion. On the evening of the 12th, there was the usual Rosary procession. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were present on this brisk October night. Pilgrims holding lighted candles, the praying of the Rosary, the procession with the Our Lady of Fatima statue—all this made for a very impressive and moving occasion.

The next day, the 13th, was obviously a very, very special time.

The day was bright and sunny with an almost completely blue sky. It seemed no accident. It was a gift of Our Lady, the Woman Clothed with the Sun: Now a great sign appeared in Heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown (Rev. 12:1). We see, then, how fitting it was that the great miracle of Fatima described above was one involving the sun.

There were about a million people gathered in the huge square for this 75th anniversary occasion. The center of attraction was the Mass at the outdoor altar situated on the Basilica steps. Before and after the Mass, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was marched in procession. The pilgrims waved their white handkerchiefs at the statue, a time-honored custom at Fatima. The entire ceremony took over three hours, yet there was a pervasive silence throughout the gathering of pilgrims, which numbered about one million. Their deep devotion was obvious. It was one of the most impressive and moving scenes I have ever witnessed.

During a stay at Fatima, one can always observe pilgrims visiting the Apparitions Chapel for Masses and adoration visits. Leading down to the Chapel is a special walkway which stretches back about 100 yards into the great square. This path is used by many pilgrims who, in an act of sacrifice, walk on their knees the length of the walkway, ending their journey at the Chapel itself. The atmosphere at the Chapel is one of deep peace and devotion, a common trait at Marian shrines.

Pilgrims are also constantly entering the Basilica for Masses and visits. At the front of the Basilica lie the remains of two of the Fatima visionaries. Jacinta’s crypt is to the left, and Francisco’s is to the right. Pilgrims stop briefly and pray at the crypts in a spirit of deep devotion. As one prays at these crypts, it is easy to recall the words of Jesus: I bless you, Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children (Matt. 11:25).

Central to the pilgrimage activities at Fatima are the many Masses which take place at the Chapel of Apparitions and the Basilica church. This, again, is a common occurrence at Marian shrines. Mary always leads to the Eucharistic Christ.

Table of Contents


Fatima: The Message

Before receiving the six apparitions of Our Lady, May through October of 1917, the three Fatima visionaries were visited by an angel on three different occasions during the preceding year. He appeared to them in the spring, summer, and fall. Lucia (now Sr. Lucia) describes the springtime apparition of the angel:

On reaching us, he said: “Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”

Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground and made us repeat these words three times: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.

Then, rising he said: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.

His words engraved themselves so deeply on our minds that we could never forget them. 3

During the summer of 1916, the angel again appeared to the three visionaries. He said to them:

Pray! Pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices continually to the Most High. Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of sinners. Bring peace to our country in this way.... I am the Guardian Angel of Portugal. Accept and bear with submission all the sufferings the Lord will send you. 4

In the fall of the same year, the angel visited the visionaries a final time:

The angel came...bearing a golden chalice in one hand and a Host above it in the other. The amazed children noticed that drops of blood were falling from the Host into the chalice. Presently, the angel left both suspended in mid-air and prostrated himself on the ground, saying this beautiful prayer: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and [the intercession of] the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.5

Sr. Lucia relates how the angel gave them Communion:

Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hand. He gave the Sacred Host to me and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco, saying as he did so:

Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” 6

Reflecting upon these messages of the angel, we see how much they contain for our spiritual instruction.

First of all, we notice the distinctive Trinitarian nature of the messages. We are instructed that, in our Christian existence, we must express the greatest reverence for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as we serve them through the virtues of faith, hope, and love. These three virtues are at the heart of our life of grace.

We are reminded of the ugly reality of sin and of our duty to make reparation for it. We are reminded that reparation is due Christ in His Eucharistic presence. And, as we shall soon see, Our Lady calls for a specific act of reparation—the five first Saturdays. Reparation is a foundation of the Fatima messages.

The angel also tells us that we must not only love God; we must also love our neighbor. We are to pray and make sacrifices for others.

In telling us to “Pray a great deal,” and “Make everything you do a sacrifice,” the angel reminds us that we are to live a deep spirituality. We are to be united with God throughout the day in as conscious a manner as possible. Regarding the angel’s call to prayer, we shall soon hear of Mary’s special request concerning the daily Rosary. It is a request that reminds us that God has sent Our Blessed Mother to call us back to Jesus, and to a closer union with Him. The Fatima message indeed reminds us that Mary is our spiritual Mother, that she is our mediatrix with Christ.

The angel specified a need to help others by our sacrifices, and to accept the sufferings God sends. It is a confirmation of Christ’s paschal mystery of death-resurrection. The cross leads to life. We live the cross for the purpose of growing in grace ourselves, and in order to help channel grace to others.

The Angel also reminded us that the Eucharist is at the center of the Church’s life. And, very importantly, in each of his three messages, the Angel drew attention to the critical role which the Hearts of Jesus and Mary play in our Christian lives:

Another remarkable fact is that in each of the three apparitions, the Angel already mentions the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, as though linked to one another by an indissoluble union. The account of the first apparition even presents a striking phrase which seems to have been hardly noticed. After having taught this completely God-centered prayer, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you,” the Angel added: “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” We pray to God, and it is the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary that hear and answer our prayers! How could it better express the truth that we can only go to God and please Him by this unique and universal mediation?

Similarly, in the summer of 1916, when the Angel announces to the three seers their future vocations, it is the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary that appear in the foreground as the inseparable mediators of the “Father of Mercies.” “The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary,” he tells them, “have designs of mercy on you.”

Finally, the third time, in the prayer of Eucharistic offering, it is by “the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and [the intercession of] the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” that the Angel begs “the conversion of poor sinners” of the Trinity.

With this constant thought of the mediation of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, we are already at the very center of the Message of Fatima.7

The Angel’s three messages contain an amazing spiritual doctrine. The Angel gives the outline of the spiritual life within the framework of devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Behold, the spirituality of Fatima!

The Angel’s instruction to the three children admirably prepared them for Our Lady’s apparitions. Mary’s messages presume, and build upon, the spiritual doctrine which the Angel gave to the three young visionaries—and to us.

May 13, 1917, marks the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco. On this occasion, she said to the visionaries:

Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm..... I am from Heaven.

I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at the same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want

Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?

Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.8

To the end of each decade of the Rosary, she added the Fatima prayer, “0 my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.9

In Mary’s first message, we immediately see two aspects of the Fatima message—prayer (especially the Rosary) and reparation.

On June 13, the Blessed Virgin again appeared to the three children:

There were about 70 people present, though only the children could see the apparition. She told the youngsters that many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them. She said Francisco and Jacinta would soon leave the world for Heaven. Holding out her heart, surrounded by thorns which pierced it from all sides, Our Lady told Lucy: “God wishes you to remain in the world for some time because He wants to use you to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.” 10

This shows how devotion to the Immaculate Heart is central to the Fatima message. Subsequent events reemphasize the importance of Our Lady teaching this devotion at Fatima.

In her July apparition, Our Lady further revealed her plan to the children and to the world:

During her appearance in July, Our Lady, in answer to Lucia’s plea, promised that in October she would work a great miracle so that all might believe and know who she was. Again, the Mother of God told the children to sacrifice themselves for sinners and to say many times, especially when making a sacrifice, this prayer: “0 my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of poor sinners, and in reparation for all the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” 11

During this same July apparition, Mary showed the three children a vision of Hell. She told them:

You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish, in the world, devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.

The war (World War I, then raging) is going to end. But if people do not stop offending God, another and worse one will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you shall see a night illuminated by an unknown light [January 2, 1938], know that this is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its many crimes by means of war, hunger, and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father. 12

To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the five first Saturdays. If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed....

But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph, the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, Russia will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world. 13

In the above, Mary speaks of the five first Saturdays. Here is what the practice involves:

  1. Go to confession, which may be done from eight days before to eight days after the first Saturday. Of course, if a person is in the state of serious sin, the confession must be made before receiving communion.
  2. Receive Holy Communion.
  3. Recite five decades of the Rosary.
  4. Meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.

All of the above (except confession) must be done on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart. For those who make the five first Saturdays, Our Lady of Fatima has promised to assist them at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation. 14

Because of the excitement caused by the apparitions, the civil authorities were so alarmed that they kidnapped the three young visionaries and put them in jail. The incarceration period included the day of August 13. Consequently, Our Lady did not appear to the children on this particular 13th.

The authorities, fearing reaction on the part of the people, quickly released the children. Mary appeared to them on August 19 near Valinhos:

She told them she was greatly displeased by the action of the mayor. As a result, the miracle promised for October would not be as impressive as originally planned. 15

Next came the September appearance of Our Lady:

More than 30,000 people were present in September, and saw a shower of mysterious white petals fall to within 10 feet of the ground before dissolving into the air. Many also saw the globe of light bearing the Lady come to rest atop the tree, and the branches bend as though someone were standing on them. Later, they saw the cloud depart into the east, from whence it had come.16

The October 13 vision was accompanied by the great Miracle of the Sun described in the previous chapter. In her message that day, Our Blessed Mother told the children:

I am the Lady of the Rosary. I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and to ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day.17

While the people in attendance were beholding the great Miracle of the Sun, the three young visionaries, and they alone, were privileged to see striking visions in the heavens:

As Our Lady had promised, St. Joseph had come with the Holy Family and had blessed the world. Then, Our Lady appeared as the Mother of Sorrows, accompanied by her Divine Son, Who also blessed the world. Finally, Lucy had seen the Blessed Virgin, dressed in the brown robes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, holding a brown Scapular in her hand, with her infant Son upon her knee. However, in none of these visions had any of the figures spoken to the children. 18

Besides the messages associated with the major Fatima apparitions, there were other revelations given by Our Lady. Before Jacinta died, she told of other messages given her (during her illness) by Mary:

More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.

Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.

Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.

Priests must be pure, very pure. They should not busy themselves with anything except what concerns the Church and souls. The disobedience of priests, to their superiors and to the Holy Father, is very displeasing to Our Lord.

I can no longer restrain the hand of my Divine Son from striking the world with just punishments for its many crimes.

If the government of a country leaves the Church in peace and gives liberty to our Holy Religion, it will be blessed by God.

Tell everybody that God gives graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tell them to ask grace from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask them to plead for peace from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her. 19

This last message offers us an excellent opportunity to summarize the Fatima message. It tells us “that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

At the center of the veneration for which Our Lord calls is the act of consecration to His Sacred Heart and to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. This consecration calls for a total gift of ourselves to Jesus and Mary. Such a gift, obviously, includes a willingness to incorporate into our lives the other Fatima teachings and requests. As such, consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary summarizes the Fatima message.

Some seem to think the message of Fatima is no longer relevant to today’s world. The words of Pope John Paul II tell us how wrong they are. Referring to a pilgrimage he made in 1982, he says:

Last week, I myself went on pilgrimage to Portugal, especially to Fatima, in order to give thanks that the mercy of God and the protection of the Mother of Christ had saved my life last year. The message of Fatima is a call to conversion and penance, the first and most basic call of the Gospel. Today, it is more urgent than ever, when evil is threatening us through errors based on denial of God. The message of Fatima puts us on our guard. It also invites us to approach anew the Fountain of Mercy by an act of consecration. Mary wishes us to draw near it: each one of us, each nation, and the whole world. 20

Table of Contents


The Spirituality of Consecration

Before we discuss consecration to the Heart of Christ and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we should first establish what we mean by the word consecration.

To consecrate means to make holy. Only God can make one holy. Our fundamental consecration takes place in Baptism; in Baptism we are sealed with the holiness of God. The Persons of the Trinity communicate Themselves to us in a most intimate manner. They dwell within us and give us a share in Their own holiness. Through Baptism, we truly receive a participation in the divine life, and this sharing is our life of sanctifying grace, our Christ-life.

The reference to our life of sanctifying grace as the Christ-life reminds us that our being consecrated by God in Baptism is mediated by Christ. In fact, our act of being consecrated by God in Baptism is a participation in Christ’s own consecration. A. Bossard develops the idea extremely well:

By the Incarnation, in and of itself, the Humanity of Jesus is consecrated, so that in becoming Man, Jesus is ipso facto constituted Savior, Prophet, King, Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice that was to save the world. He is the “Anointed” par excellence, the “Christ” totally belonging to God, His Humanity being that of the Word and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. When, by a free act of His human will, He accepts what He is, doing what He was sent to do, He can say that He consecrates “Himself.” In Christ, therefore, what might be called His “subjective” consecration is a perfect response to the “objective” consecration produced in His humanity through the Incarnation.

And what Christ does brings with it a “consecration” for His disciples, a very special belonging to God, since He imparts to them His own life precisely by making them participate in His own consecration.

Through Baptism Christians also are consecrated and “anointed” by the power of the Spirit. They share, in their measure, in the essential consecration of Christ, in His character of King, Priest, and Prophet (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Rev. 5:9; etc.). With Christ and through Christ, they are “ordered” to the glory of God and the salvation of the world. They do not belong to themselves. They belong to Christ the Lord, who imparts His own life to them....

The vocation of those who have been baptized is to “live” this consecration by a voluntary adherence-and one that is as perfect as possible-to what it has made of them. Living as “children of God,” they fulfill subjectively their objective consecration; like Jesus, they consecrate themselves. This is the deeper meaning of vows and baptismal promises, together with the actual way of life corresponding to them. The baptismal consecration is the fundamental one, constitutive of the Christian. All consecrations which come after it presuppose and are rooted in it....” 21

The above details the awesome privilege and responsibility which come to us through Baptism. In Christ, we are consecrated with the holiness of God. We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and through Christ, we are called to help continue the work of the redemption. We have a mission to accomplish. We are called to participate in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly mission of Jesus. We are called to give an ongoing “yes” to our objective consecration-to that which has happened to us in Baptism. This “yes” is our subjective act of consecration.

To aid us in a special way in living our ongoing “yes”—our life of subjective consecration—God has given us devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the center of these devotions is a specific act of consecration. This act of consecration is a very special and attractive way to live out our baptismal consecration.

Some may ask at this point, “Why the act of consecration to Mary? Is not the act of consecration to Christ sufficient?” Again, Bossard puts it very well:

If, in the strict sense in question here, consecration makes one belong to God—and Christ is God—how is it possible to speak of consecrating oneself to Mary? It is possible because, by God’s will, Mary has something to do with our Christian life, with our sanctification. She is certainly not, like Christ, the source of salvation, but she is maternally ordered to our life as children of God—always, however, in perfect union with her Son and subordinate to Him. ... Hence, in the full sense of the word, a consecration to Mary includes, at least implicitly, a real and essential reference to Christ and to the Baptism that binds us to Him. 22

Jesus Himself has told us that He wishes us to entrust—to consecrate—ourselves to Mary. We have that striking and touching scene on Calvary:

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple He said, “This is your mother” (John 19:25-26).

Of course, the beloved disciple is John, who represents all of us. In giving Mary to John as his spiritual Mother, Jesus also gave Mary to us as our spiritual Mother. He is entrusting us to Mary. He calls attention to the fact that Mary is the Mother of our Christ-life, our life of grace. In subordination to God, she gives us this life of grace, nourishes it, brings it to full development. As she cooperates with the Holy Spirit, she assists us in living our baptismal consecration-the consecration which makes us belong entirely to God in Christ.

Pope John Paul II has put before us the meaning of Mary’s spiritual motherhood on many occasions—in his homilies, his acts of consecration, and in his writings. In his encyclical letter, “The Mother of the Redeemer” (Redemptoris Mater), he comments on the above Scripture passage:

It can also be said that these same words fully show the reason for the Marian dimension of the life of Christ’s disciples. This is true not only of John, who at that hour stood at the foot of the Cross together with his Master’s Mother, but it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and, at the same time, he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual. The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. 23

Yes, Jesus has given Mary to each of us as our spiritual Mother. He wants us to grow in our appreciation of this great gift by allowing Mary to be more and more Mother to us. He wants us to grow in our entrustment to her, in our consecration to her, so that she may lead us ever closer to Himself. All this reminds us that Jesus has willed that Mary be our Mediatrix with Him. Perhaps no other devotee of Mary has emphasized this truth more than St. Louis de Montfort. In speaking of this Marian Saint, Fr. Arthur Culkins observes: “Perhaps, in the final analysis, the greatest contribution of this Breton saint to the theology of Marian consecration is precisely in his insistence on Mary’s mediation as willed by God.” 24

St. Louis de Montfort, himself, emphatically reminds us why we consecrate ourselves to Mary: “The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.” 25

At Fatima Mary has asked us to consecrate ourselves to her in a particular way—consecration to her Immaculate Heart. Mary, our Mother, shows us her Heart as the symbol of her love. She tells us that she loves us with an overwhelming love and asks that we respond to this love by loving her in return, by making a total gift of ourselves—a total entrustment of ourselves—to her Immaculate Heart. She asks this of us so that she may be able to exercise her motherhood toward us as fully as possible. She wants us to imitate her own great love for Jesus, for the Father, and for the Holy Spirit. Her love for the Persons of the Trinity is symbolized by her Heart, as is her love for us.

A great sign of our consecration to Mary the Immaculate Heart, is the wearing of the Brown Scapular. Sr. Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries, has said that we should wear the scapular as part of living the Fatima message. She tells us that “the Rosary and the scapular are inseparable.” Our Lady, when she gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock in 1251, said, “Whoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.” Only a properly authorized priest can validly enroll one in the Brown Scapular. 26

How can we refuse the love and the loving request of our Mother? If we respond by consecrating ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, we can experience a remarkable sense of being loved, a sense of peace and joy, a sense of security and warmth. Resting secure within the Heart of our Mother, we are strengthened in all circumstances “to be for Christ’’— to live out our baptismal consecration. Amid laughter and tears, success and failure, times of exhilaration and times of sorrowful disappointment, we can rest secure in the maternal heart of a Mother who loves us with an unfathomable love. If we can remain within the refuge of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, nothing can prevent us from also growing in our consecration to the Heart of Christ. And this, indeed, is why Mary wants us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart—so that she may lead us ever closer to the Heart of Jesus. This was emphatic at Fatima.

In speaking of our consecration to the Immaculate Heart, Pope John Paul II stated:

Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the Heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ, she is wholly united to His redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said, “Do whatever He tells you,” Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the Heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of Our Savior.27 (emphasis added)

Yes, Mary the Immaculate Heart points to the Heart of Jesus and she wants us to immerse ourselves in the flames of this Heart. She wants us, in her company, to seek our refuge in Jesus’ Heart. She asks us to dwell within her own Immaculate Heart more and more so that she may more and more place us deeply within the Heart of Christ. In all this, Mary cooperates with the Holy Spirit in forming Christ in us in ever greater measure. Her desire for us is that we grow in the likeness of Jesus, that we become, to an ever greater degree, Christians according to the Heart of Christ.

Devotion to the Heart of Christ is rooted in what took place upon Calvary:

It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath—since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity—the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Him, and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found He was already dead, and so, instead of breaking His legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water (John 19:31-34).

It is interesting to note that St. John is the only one of the four evangelists to record this piercing of Jesus’ Heart upon Calvary. How fitting! Jesus loved John with a most special love. John was the one who placed his head against Jesus’ Heart at the Last Supper. John was the one to whom Jesus entrusted Mary and the one whom Christ entrusted to Mary as his spiritual Mother; John represented all of us. John, special recipient of Jesus’ love, witnessed and recorded the piercing of Jesus’ Heart, this heart which is symbol of Christ’s love.

St. Bonaventure, a doctor of the Church, comments on how the Church was born from the pierced Heart of Jesus:

Then, in order that the Church might be formed out of the side of Christ sleeping on the cross... the divine plan permitted that one of the soldiers should pierce open His sacred side with a lance. While blood mixed with water flowed, the price of our salvation was poured forth, which gushing forth from the sacred fountain of the Heart, gave power to the sacraments of the Church.... 28

From its roots on Calvary, devotion to the Heart of Christ has developed down through the ages. Numerous popes of recent times have highly recommended devotion to the Heart of Christ. One of the highlights of these papal affirmations has been Pope Pius XII’s encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart, Haurietis Aquas. In speaking of the greatness of this devotion, Pius XII states:

Indeed, if the evidence on which devotion to the wounded Heart of Jesus rests is rightly weighed, it is clear to all that we are dealing here, not with an ordinary form of piety, which anyone may, at his discretion, slight in favor of other devotions, or esteem lightly, but with a duty of religion most conducive to Christian perfection. For if devotion, according to the common theological definition which the Angelic Doctor gives, “is apparently nothing else but the will to give oneself readily to things concerning the service of God,” can there be a service to God more required and necessary-and at the same time nobler and more pleasant—than that which pays homage to His love? 29

Pope Pius XII also speaks to us concerning Christ’s Heart as symbol of love:

Wherefore, the Heart of the Incarnate Word is rightly considered the chief index and symbol of the threefold love with which the Divine Redeemer continuously loves the Eternal Father and the whole human race. It is the symbol of that divine love which He shares with the Father and the Holy Ghost, but which in Him alone, in the Word, namely, that was made Flesh, is it manifested to us through His mortal human body, since “in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead, bodily.” It is, moreover, the symbol of that most ardent love which, infused into His soul, sanctifies the human will of Christ and whose action is enlightened and directed by a twofold most perfect knowledge, namely the beatific and infused. Finally, in a more direct and natural manner, it is a symbol also of sensible love, since the body of Jesus Christ, formed through the operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, has a most perfect capacity for feeling and perception, much more than the bodies of all other men. 30

Jesus shows us His Heart as symbol of His great love for us. This love is directed at each of us in a most precious, unique way, for He knows each of us by name. He knows each of us much, much better than we know ourselves. He loves each of us in our uniqueness with an incomprehensible love. In the greatness of this love for us, He hung upon a cross, His body racked with the indescribable pain of crucifixion; a body which had already been greatly weakened by the agony in the garden, by the cruel scourging, and by the carrying of the Cross. Besides the overwhelming physical pain, there was the agonizing suffering of His Heart. Part of this anguished suffering of His Heart was the knowledge that His love would be refused by so many down through the centuries. He knew that this love would be rejected so many times, even scorned and laughed at.

What is our response to Christ’s love for us? With St.Ignatius Loyola, let us ask, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What am I going to do for Christ?”

It is our privilege and duty to give ourselves to Christ. It is our privilege and duty, each day, to say “yes” to our baptismal consecration. Each day we have a renewed opportunity to realize that we do not belong to ourselves, but that we belong to God, in Christ.

Each day is a precious opportunity “to be for Christ and others.” Each day is a precious opportunity to renew that consecration to the Heart of Christ. In renewing that consecration, we can speak to Jesus in words such as these:

Jesus, You have loved me so much. You continue to love me with a love whose depths I cannot fully comprehend. You have given and do give Yourself completely to me. Help me give myself entirely to You. In myself, I am so weak and helpless. But in You, I am so strong. With Your grace, I make this gift of myself joyfully and gratefully. I make this gift of myself through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Heart of my Mother, this Mother who loves me so much, who has such a great desire for me to daily approach Your Heart. How much Mary desires that I immerse myself in the love of Your Heart! How eager she is to help me draw strength from Your Heart, in order to pour myself out anew in love for God and neighbor!

Jesus, I love You so much, and how much I want to grow in love for You! You are my salvation, You are my reconciliation, You are my happiness, my peace, my joy. You are my perfect Friend!

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque sheds further light on what is involved in consecration to the Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary, to whom Christ revealed the secrets of His Sacred Heart, serves as a most eminent teacher for instructing us on how to live out our consecration. In a letter to a friend, the Saint says:

... I shall simply tell you, as a true friend in the adorable Heart of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, that when I pray to Him for you, this thought occurs to me: If you want to live wholly for Him and attain that perfection He desires of you, you must make a complete sacrifice of yourself and of all that you have, without reserve, to His Sacred Heart. You must no longer will anything, but with the will of this most loving Heart, love nothing except with His love, act only according to the lights He gives you, undertake nothing without first asking His counsel and help. All the glory must be His. You must thank Him for the ill as well as for the good success of your undertakings, always satisfied, never worrying about anything. As long as this divine Heart is satisfied, loved, and glorified, that must be enough for us. 31

That we should give special attention to St. Margaret Mary’s teaching concerning the Sacred Heart is confirmed by the following words of Pope Pius XII:

We mention, by way of example, the names of those who achieved special distinction in establishing and promoting devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, St. Peter Canisius, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John Eudes....

Among those who have promoted this most excellent devotion, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque occupies the chief place of honor. 32

Yes, St. Margaret Mary holds a preeminent place in the history of devotion to the Heart of Jesus. I consider myself very privileged to have been able to make a recent pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial. This is the French town where St. Margaret Mary lived out her religious life at the Convent of the Sisters of the Visitation. I was privileged to make a holy hour in the Chapel of Apparitions, the place where St. Margaret Mary received apparitions and revelations from the Sacred Heart. This was one of the most special experiences of my entire life.

St. Margaret Mary stated that Jesus has given twelve promises to those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their homes.
  3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
  5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart is exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise you, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment. 33

The spirituality of Fatima is a spirituality of Hearts and hearts - one which involves the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and our own hearts.

Christ, the Sacred Heart, and Mary, the Immaculate Heart, manifest their great and unfathomable love for us. They reveal Their Hearts as symbols of this love, and They ask for our consecration in return. To say “”yes” is to live out our baptismal consecration in a most special way. To say “yes” to Their request is our salvation. To say “yes” is to find the substantial and ongoing happiness we all seek. To say “”yes” is to dwell secure in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, where we feel loved and protected, where we find peace and joy, where we are fired with the determination to pour ourselves out in love for God and neighbor. To say “”yes” is to go to the Father, with and through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, with Mary, our Mother, at our side.

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  1. For background material on Fatima, I am particularly indebted to Our Lady of Fatima’s Peace Plan from Heaven (Rockford: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 1983).
  2. Ibid., pp.7-8.
  3. Louis Kondar, SVD, editor, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words (Fatima: Postulation Center, 1976), p.62. Distributed in the U.S.A. by the Ravengate Press, Cambridge, MA.
  4. Our Lady’s Peace Plan, op cit., pp.1-2.
  5. Ibid., p.2 (The words in brackets are my own-added for clarification).
  6. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, op cit., pp.64-65.
  7. Frere Michael de la Trinité, The Whole Truth about Fatima (Buffalo: Immaculate Heart Publications, 1989), pp. 85-86 (The words in brackets are my own-added for clarification).
  8. Ibid., pp.112-114.
  9. Our Lady’s Peace Plan, op cit., p.30.
  10. Ibid., p.3.
  11. Ibid., pp.3-4.
  12. Ibid., pp.4-5.
  13. Ibid., p.5.
  14. Rev. Edward Carter, S.J., Mother at Our Side: Mary’s Role in the Spiritual Life (1993: Faith Publishing Co., Milford, Ohio), p.21.
  15. Our Lady’s Peace Plan, op cit., p.6.
  16. Ibid., p.6.
  17. Ibid., p.7.
  18. Ibid., p.8.
  19. Ibid., pp.9-10.
  20. Pope John-Paul II, as quoted in Arthur Culkins, Totus Tuus: John Paul’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment (Libertyville: Academy of the Immaculate, 1992), p.177.
  21. A. Bossard, in Dictionary of Mary (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1985), pp.54-55.
  22. Ibid., p.55.
  23. Pope John Paul II, The Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater) (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1987), No.45.
  24. Totus Tuus, op cit., p.63.
  25. St. Louis de Montfort, God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis de Montfort (Bay Shore: Montfort Publications, 1987), p.327.
  26. Our Lady's Peace Plan, op cit., p.23.
  27. Pope John Paul II, as quoted in Totus Tuus, op cit., p.255.
  28. Bonaventure, translated by Evert Collins (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), pp.154-155.
  29. Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas (New York: Paulist Press, 1956), No.119.
  30. Ibid., No.65.
  31. The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, translated by Clarence A. Herbst, S.J. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1954), pp.37-38.
  32. Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, op cit., Nos. 92-93.
  33. Alban Dachauer, S.J., The Sacred Heart (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1959), pp.147-148.

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Prayer for Union with Jesus

Come to me, Lord, and possess my soul. Come into my heart and permeate my soul. Help me to sit in silence with You and let You work in my heart.

I am Yours to possess. I am Yours to use. I want to be selfless and only exist in You. Help me to spoon out all that is me and be an empty vessel ready to be filled by You. Help me to die to myself and live only for You. Use me as You will. Let me never draw my attention back to myself. I only want to operate as You do, dwelling within me.

I am Yours, Lord. I want to have my life in You. I want to do the will of the Father. Give me the strength to put aside the world and let You operate my very being. Help me to act as You desire. Strengthen me against the distractions of the devil to take me from Your work.

When I worry, I have taken my focus off of You and placed it on myself. Help me not to give in to the promptings of others to change what in my heart You are making very clear to me. I worship You, I adore You and I love You. Come and dwell in me now.

Imprimatur:   Most Rev. Carl K. Moeddel,
                         Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop    
                         Archdiocese of Cincinnati

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