It was not, of course, an ideal environment for growing in the faith, and it was probably a different environment than most of you face, but, whatever the circumstances, God provides what we need, if we make good use of what He has made available.
Friendship with Jesus does not begin with our human initiative. It begins with Him. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” He tells us (Cf. Jer 1:5), “before you were born I dedicated you.”
Mark the Evangelist recounts a telling story about a blind man named Bartimaeus cured by Jesus because of his professed faith. After Bartimaeus was healed of his blindness, he followed Him “along the way” (Mk 10:52); that is, he became His disciple.
“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). These words of the Mother of God at the Wedding Feast of Cana are like a bright beacon pointing the way to our happiness and the way to the Heart of Christ.
The famous Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spent nearly 50 years studying the history of the bloody revolution that took the lives of some 60 million of his countrymen. In the process, he read hundreds of books, collected personal testimonies and wrote volumes on the Communist Revolution in Russia. He concluded, “men have forgotten God.”
When Our Lady of Fatima appeared to Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta for the third time, July 13, 1917, she did two things of great importance: first, she showed them a terrifying vision of hell to reveal the horrific suffering that sin causes; and second, she gave them what has come to be known as the Fatima Prayer, which she told them to say at the end of each decade of the Rosary.
Throughout the history of salvation, God chooses to use what seems too small and insignificant to accomplish his purposes. Small realities, ordinary people: like the poor young children of Fatima, like the family.
God sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to little children in central Portugal with a plan that could convert hearts and thereby stop the bloodshed.
Can prayer change the direction of history? Are prayer and acts of penance capable of preventing nuclear annihilation? Can prayers and penance increase our freedom? “Yes, yes and yes.”
A hundred years ago, on the 13th day of every month from May through October of 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children near Fatima in Portugal, bringing them an urgent message, calling for repentance and prayer, a message that has no less urgency today.